Warning of Plots Against West, U.S. Plans Assault on Islamic State's Capital in Syria

(New York Times) Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt - The fight to retake Raqqa, the Syrian city that serves as the capital of the Islamic State, must begin within weeks to disrupt planning believed to be underway there to stage terrorist attacks on the West, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top American military commander in Iraq, said Wednesday. American officials are sweeping aside objections from Turkey and moving forward with plans to rely on a ground fighting force that includes Kurdish militia fighters in Syria. Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters, the YPG, as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the Kurdish rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey since the 1980s. But American military officials say the YPG personnel are the best fighters they have. "The facts are these," Gen. Townsend said. "The only force that is capable on any near-term timeline is the Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG are a significant portion." However, the Syrian Kurds do not view the recapture of Raqqa as one of their top priorities. "The Syrian Kurdish YPG do not truly desire to shed blood to capture a majority-Sunni Arab city far from their vision of their autonomous borders," said Christopher Kozak, a Syria researcher at the Institute for the Study of War. (New York Times)

2016-10-27 00:00:00

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