Leaflets demanding that civilians leave ISIS’ stronghold in Raqqa were dropped over the city by international coalition aircraft yesterday. This led to mobilisation in the ranks of ISIS at the same time that the Russian news agency Sputnik quoted sources as saying Kurdish “Syrian Democratic Forces” will begin their military campaign in the direction of Raqqa in the next few hours. The Spokesperson of the Syrian Democratic Forces Colonel Talal Slaw declined to confirm or deny the anticipated operations and only told Asharq Al-Awsat that he is preparing to launch a massive campaign against ISIS, which may be carried out in Raqqa, Deir Al-Zour or the northern Aleppo countryside.
In Russia meanwhile, the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed that the United States and the US led international coalition against terrorism join forces with Russian troops in order to strike Al-Nusra Front and armed groups that are not included in the cease-fire agreement in Syria.
In what appeared to be a warning to the United States, Shoigu said “Russia will undertake these missions on its own from the 25th of May if Washington does not agree to that”. The Pentagon immediately rejected the proposal by saying that “The United States (is not cooperating) militarily with Russia in this country”.
In other Syrian matters, the Syrian surgeon Jawad Abu Hatab who was elected as the head of the Syrian interim government earlier this week highlighted the vitality of the eight ministries and subsidiary organisations within Syria to Asharq Al-Awsat by saying “The government and the ministers will be on the ground and in contact with those Syrians who remain in their towns and villages to directly provide services and re-establish the work of existing institutions”. He also stressed that the interim government “will not rely on the international community after today and added that “We will rely on our own special ways like we did at the beginning of the revolution”.