We’ll Cooperate with Anyone who Liberates Raqqa from ISIS, the USA Included: Al-Assad
nsnbc : Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said the Syrian government supports and will cooperate with anyone who liberates the city of Raqqa from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the United States included. Assad stressed however, that help in fighting terrorism must not be confused with an attempt by the U.S. to occupy the country.
Speaking with reporters from the AFP news agency Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said “We support whoever wants to liberate any city from the terrorists, but that doesn’t mean to be liberated from terrorists and being occupied by American forces, for example, or by another proxy, or other terrorists.” He added:
“So, it’s not clear who is going to liberate Raqa. Is it really Syrian forces that are going to hand it over to the Syrian army? Is it going to be in cooperation with the Syrian army? It’s not clear yet … But what we hear is only allegations about liberating Raqa. We’ve been hearing that for nearly a year now, or less than a year, but nothing happened on the ground. So, it’s just, let’s say, a hypothetical question, because there is nothing concrete on the ground.”
On Thursday the General Command of the Euphrates Operations Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the YPG announced the beginning of the fourth phase to clear the remaining northern countryside and the valley of Jalab from the ISIS terrorists and to remove the last obstacles to prepare for the liberation of the city of Al-Raqqa by completing preparations to complete a siege with encirclement of the terrorists.
The General Command noted that this operation is carried out with the participation of the various factions and forces affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) consist primarily of fighters of the armed wing of Syria’s PYD, the YPG and the all female YPJ. It also consists of other local ethnic and regional militia including a Syrian – Arab component and foreign volunteers.
The SDF operate with the direct support of U.S.-led coalition forces through coordination with U.S. special forces and marines on the ground, through air support, and other cooperation. The SDF report that progress is made on two fronts, east front and western front, Jalab and the northern countryside of the city of Raqqa.
The SDF stressed that they call on all people in the region to cooperate with the Syrian Democratic Forces and move, in order to ensure their safety, stay away from enemy positions and beware of the enemy’s plans that they will using them as human shields. We pledge to exert all efforts to preserve their security and safety. The SDF has, however, not published any information about “where people should move to”, nor has there been published any information on how the SDF prepares to accommodate displaced people.
What the SDF has done, however, is to advise people in the region, mainly via press releases, that the Islamic State uses human shields and hostages, and that it therefore is advisable to leave Raqqa and other contested areas as soon as possible.
CH/L – nsnbc 15.04.2017