A senior Kurdish source who is informed about the international campaign to fight ISIS in Raqqa told Asharq Al-Awsat that American, French and German military advisers are stationed in the Syrian city of Ayn Al-Arab (Kobani), north east Aleppo, in order to “coordinate air strikes and support Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who launched their campaign to “isolate and then seize the city of Raqqa” on Sunday. The campaign is backed by the international coalition to fight terrorism’s planes.
The source, who declined to be named, said that “50 American and 20 French military advisers arrived in the town of Raqqa, where there is a small number of German military advisers on the second line of defences against ISIS, in order to coordinate military operations and air strikes carried out by the coalition”. The source added “A decision has been made, and French and British aircraft will participate alongside American aircraft to protect troops involved in the attack and target ISIS’ positions while American, French and German advisers are on the ground”. He stressed that the European and American presence “reflects the west’s orientation to support the Syrian Democratic Forces, and shows that the SDF are the only force that is capable of liberating Raqqa from terrorism”.
The source added that according to the international coalition’s estimates, “it is likely that advancing forces will make large progress before the end of the year and that they will reach Raqqa”. He added that ISIS’ fighters “have begun to flee from their stronghold in Raqqa, and that the most prominent figure to have fled was ISIS’ Treasury Official”.
On its part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that American reinforcements had arrived in the Ayn Al-Arab district (Kobani) to participate in military operations between Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIS in the northern countryside of Raqqa and to supervise the fighting there.
It quoted sources which reported that US troops will take part in the operation dubbed “Wrath on the Euphrates” to isolate the city of Raqqa from its northern and eastern countryside. The number of troops participating will be larger than those who took part in the battle to seize Manbij. The sources also confirmed that the SDF were provided with ammunition and sophisticated weapons by the coalition’s forces just before military operations in Raqqa began.