Kurds be­gin cam­paign to oust Is­lamic State from Raqqa

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Kur­dish-led Syr­ian forces be­gan an of­fen­sive Sunday to lib­er­ate the Is­lamic State group’s de facto cap­i­tal of Raqqa, clash­ing with the ex­trem­ists north of the Syr­ian city.

The United States, France and Bri­tain said they would pro­vide air sup­port for the of­fen­sive, which was an­nounced at a news con­fer­ence in Ein Issa, north of Raqqa, by a coali­tion of Kurds and Arabs known as the Syria Demo­cratic Forces. But it lacked de­tails on how the group dom­i­nated by Kurds plans to oust the mil­i­tants from the city, home to an es­ti­mated 5,000 IS fighters.

Un­like sev­eral suc­cess­ful ef­forts to drive Is­lamic State mil­i­tants out of cities in Iraq, the Raqqa of­fen­sive faces sev­eral po­lit­i­cal ob­sta­cles.

In Iraq, a U.S.-led coali­tion is work­ing with the gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad, but Washington and its part­ners in Syria are re­ly­ing on a hodge­podge of lo­cal Arab and Kur­dish op­po­si­tion groups, some of which are fierce ri­vals.

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