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US-Led Coalition to 'Move Soon to Isolate Raqqa'

© REUTERS / Nour FouratThe wreckage of a car outside Raqqa Museum
The wreckage of a car outside Raqqa Museum - Sputnik International
The US-led coalition intends to recruit more Syrian fighters for the upcoming offensive on Daesh-held Raqqa. The operation to isolate the Daesh stronghold will begin soon.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US-led coalition to dislodge Daesh intends to deploy additional Syrian fighters for the upcoming operation to retake the city of Raqqa from the jihadist group, coalition commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said at a briefing Wednesday.

“On Raqqa, I believe that there are sufficient local forces already available for that operation. However, we have a plan to…recruit and equip and train more local forces for that operation,” Townsend told reporters.

Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014, file photo - Sputnik International
Pentagon Rules Out Russia's Participation in US-Led Coalition's Raqqa Operation
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Wednesday that the campaign to retake Raqqa from Daesh is expected to begin within weeks, ruling out that US special operations troops in Iraq could be a part of occupation forces.

Carter also said that the Raqqa operation is expected to overlap with the offensive to retake Iraq's Mosul.

Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia and other countries, seized Mosul in 2014 and Raqqa in 2013 along with a number of other cities and towns in the two countries.

"We will move soon to isolate Raqqa with the forces that are ready to go soon," he said.

The Daesh terror group, outlawed in Russia, took full control of Raqqa in 2014 and declared it the capital of their "caliphate." Earlier this month, the Iraqi government launched an offensive to seize the Daesh stronghold of Mosul with air cover from the US-led coalition.

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, a Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier watches as in the background a flag of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, is raised over the city of Tal Abyad, Syria, Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - Sputnik International
US-Turkey Wrangling Over Kurds Throws Raqqa Operation Into Doubt
The United States and Turkey are in talks over Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) involvement in the operation to liberate Raqqa from Daesh, Townsend said.

Ankara opposes SDF’s involvement since the force includes People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers to be an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), outlawed in the country.

"We are negotiating, we are planning, we are having talks with Turkey. And we are going to take this in steps,” Townsend said.

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