US- backed forces launch anti- IS of­fen­sive in Syria

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASHINGTOM— Thou­sands of US- backed fight­ers in Syria are launch­ing an of­fen­sive to cap­ture from ISIS a cru­cial swathe of north­ern Syria known as the Man­bij pocket fol­low­ing weeks of quiet prepa­ra­tions, US of­fi­cials dis­closed to Reuters.

The op­er­a­tion, which only just started to get un­der­way on Wed­nes­day and could take weeks to com­plete, aims to choke off ISIS’s ac­cess to Syr­ian territory along the Turk­ish bor­der that mil­i­tants have long used as a lo­gis­tics base for mov­ing for­eign fight­ers back and forth to Europe. “It’s sig­nif­i­cant in that it’s their last re­main­ing fun­nel” to Europe, a US mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said.

A small num­ber of US spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces will sup­port the of­fen­sive on the ground, act­ing as ad­vi­sors and staying some dis­tance back from the front lines, the of­fi­cials said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss mil­i­tary plan­ning.

“They’ll be as close as they need to be for the ( Syr­ian fight­ers) to com­plete the op­er­a­tion. But they will not en­gage in di­rect com­bat,” the of­fi­cial said.

A US fighter, who is fight­ing along­side with Syria Demo­cratic Forces ( SDF), car­ries his na­tional flag as he stands with SDF fight­ers in north­ern prov­ince of Raqqa, Syria May 27, 2016. ( File Photo: Reuters) The op­er­a­tion will also count on sup­port from US- led coali­tion air strikes as well as from ground- based fir­ing po­si­tions across the bor­der in Tur­key.

Per­haps es­sen­tial for NATO ally Tur­key, the op­er­a­tion will be over­whelm­ingly com­prised of Syr­ian Arabs in­stead of forces with the Kur­dish YPG mili­tia, who will only rep­re­sent about a fifth or a sixth of the over­all force, the of­fi­cials said.— Agen­cies south, in the latest mil­i­tant strike against pro­duc­tion.

“With the heavy pres­ence of 100 gun­boats, four war­ships and jet bombers NDA blew up Chevron oil well RMP 23 and RMP 24 3: 44 am ( 0244 GMT) this morn­ing ( Wed­nes­day),” it said on Twit­ter.

Chevron of­fi­cials re­fused to com­ment but an in­dus­try source who asked to re­main anony­mous said: “I can con­firm the at­tack on the two oil wells.— APP

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