“The US does not have the ability to take Raqqa. We don’t have enough troops in the area to do so. It is only through supporting the Kurds and the Iraqi army that there could be any possible success of an assault there. But the US doesn’t have enough forces in place,” Johnson said.
“It doesn’t matter whether that impression actually reflects the reality of what is on the ground. Just as long as they can portray outwardly “We’re doing something, we’re active and we’re succeeding.” Even though they may not actually be succeeding,” Johnson said.
Talking about Obama’s policy in the region the official said that the president is trying to create an impression that he is actually doing something rather than facing “the reality that is reign has been basically an abject failure.”
Looking at whether YPG forces’ advance would be possible without US military support, Johnson said that it could have been possible because the US doesn’t have the fire power — either in terms of troops, or actually close air support from aircraft to really shift and make a decisive difference on the ground.
“So there is a great tendency – we observed it over and over with Barack Obama and his team — to take credit for what others do.”
Talking about the battle for the liberation of Raqqa from Daesh’s grip, the CIA official said that he thinks it is going to take some time because, “Daesh is not just a gang of 30 guys running around wearing a radical Islamic headdress; then we’ll come to grips with that they are a de facto state and a de facto army and must be engaged in more of a conventional fashion.”
According to Johnson, sustained effort on the part of both the Syrians with the backing of Russia and Iran will make a difference.