Military effort not enough to eliminate ISIS in Raqqa: US-coalition envoy

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Kurdish female fighters from the YPJ-SDF on the right of the photo, and ISIS militants are seen on the left. Photo: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News

Brett McGurk, the US-led coalition’s special envoy, said that 55 to 60 per cent of Raqqa is now liberated from ISIS extremists.

The coalition envoy, who visited northern Syria last week for two days, confirmed that over half of Raqqa is liberated by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“In Syria, spent about two days on the ground. Met, of course, with our team, and met with the leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces, north of Raqqa. Raqqa now is about 55 to 60 percent or so finished. It’s a very difficult fight,” the General said.

“It’s not just a military effort. We also met with local councils and a number of tribal sheiks who are working very closely with us to defeat ISIS. And we have diplomats on the ground, working on the stabilization and humanitarian elements. It was a very encouraging visit, spent about two days there,” he added.

Moreover, the coalition envoy said around 2,000 fighters remain in Raqqa.

“It seems, from the information we have, that, of the 2,000 or so ISIS fighters that are left, bulk of them are foreign fighters,” coalition’s envoy said.

Moreover, the coalition envoy said the coalition has now collected over 10 terabytes of information and intelligence from documents captured from ISIS.

“Every time we do an operation, we plan what we call the sensitive site exploitation. So, in Manbij, it was 10 terabytes of information, Raqqa, now, very similar. And we have systems to process it, analyze it, and then, most importantly, share it with members of our coalition,” McGurk said

“So if we find information about foreign fighters from a certain country, we go through proper procedures to make sure it’s shared. And then key members of our coalition — as Secretary Mattis mentioned, Interpol — and we built a database, now, of 19,000 known ISIS, you know, foreign fighters, sympathizers. And that’s shared, of course, across our coalition,” he added.

“So it is a — it is a very comprehensive campaign, militarily, on the ground, taking territory back; collecting information; processing it; and then building the database and the system so it can be shared and acted upon. And certainly, in Raqqa, we’re learning an awful lot,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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