Jueves, 21 Setiembre, 2017

US makes proposal to Russia for managing Syria battlefield

Syrian National flag hangs out of a damaged building at the mountain resort town of Zabadani in the Damascus countryside Syria. The United States is looking ahead toward a decisive battleground in its bid to destroy the Isl Amid Raqqa, Mosul fights, US prepares for IS endgame effort
Eleena Tovar | 20 May, 2017, 11:28

"We have fought ISIS elements from southeast Asia to Africa, collaboration among many nations, intelligence services continues to complicate and blunt ISIS operations even as ISIS continues to pursue and conduct attacks against the United States and our allies through centralized directed plots, but also through inspired attacks", he said.

Mattis did not elaborate on how coalition forces would be able to do that under the new strategy of surrounding and annihilating ISIS in its remaining strongholds.

Dunford said the US-led coalition, had reduced ISIS-held territory, limited their freedom of movement, destroyed a great deal of their leadership, reduced the flow of foreign fighters into and from the region and diminished their financial resources.

"There has been no change to our rules of engagement, and there has been no change to our continued extraordinary efforts to avoid innocent civilian casualties", he said.

"We have taken over 55 percent of ISIS [Islamic State] territory there, over four million people have been liberated, and not one inch of ISIS territory seized has been recaptured", Mattis told reporters.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, right, speaks at a news conference at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, center, and special presidential envoy Brett McGurk.

Both Mattis and Dunford said that the delay in providing arms to the YPG has in no way been a setback for the Raqqa siege.

"The foreign fighters are the strategic threat should they return home to Tunis, to Kuala Lumpur, to Paris, to Detroit".

McGurk added that ISIS's propaganda output is also down significantly.

"And today we estimate that those numbers are less than 100 per month", Dunford said.

The complexities of the campaign in Syria were illustrated by an unusual USA airstrike Thursday against what the Pentagon described as Syrian pro-Assad forces near the Tanf military camp close to the Jordanian border.

Asked whether the proposal to Russian Federation would address the problem of a Syrian army presence in Deir el-Zour, Dunford said, "It will".

Mattis also discussed the fight against ISIS saying the USA -led coalition was now encircling Islamic State fighters in their strongholds in a tactical shift before starting a military campaign to destroy them. "To date in Mosul, 116,000 displaced civilians have returned, 250,000 boys and girls are back in school and we're working to ensure that these trend lines continue".

Dunford said the USA has been supplying weapons to Arab members of the SDF and has "stockpiled equipment and were prepared to quickly field it" to the group's Kurdish branch.

"I'm confident that our military forces are carrying out the intent, which is that they do not put themselves forward to do the job the partnered forces actually want to do, but they need our support in doing".

Much fighting remains to fully expel IS from Mosul in northern Iraq, and the battle for Raqqa has barely begun. "The two also discussed the importance of our continued close coordination", a press release from the U.S. State Department issued on Friday reads. "And without telegraphing anything that is to come, the pressure's only started", McGurk said.