Brigadier General Dave Anderson, of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said that the U.S.-led coalition has trained over 8,500 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and provided equipment for over 40,000 SDF fighters.
The Kurdish-led SDF is the main coalition partner in the fight against Islamic State’s (ISIS) extremists in northern Syria.
“In Syria, we have trained over 8,500 members of the SDF. And just this year have delivered weapons and ammunition and over 400 vehicles and personal equipment for over 40,000 troops,” Anderson said. “So, the SDF is — in essence, the clearance force and, if you will, the hold force; it’s not the police force at all. But we have anticipated the requirement, and so have the SDF,” he told reporters.
Moreover, the U.S.-led coalition also started working on training an internal security force for Raqqa, to secure the city after liberation from ISIS. “In the Raqqa area, we’re already starting to work on something that’s called the Raqqa Internal Security Force. This will be locals that will work for the Raqqa Council. So it’ll work for local governance, and they’ll be ready to establish that policing function, if you will, that safety and security element,” he said. “So this is about anticipating that requirement… that’s a pretty good job of prediction,” he added.
However, the coalition’s official said the idea to create an internal security force for Raqqa comes from the SDF. “But this is a great idea that the SDF has come up with, and we’ll assist them in the training and preparation work for what’s known as the RISF, or the Raqqa Internal Security Force,” he said.
Moreover, while the Turkish government is opposed to arm supplies to the SDF, and doesn’t trust that the SDF will return weapons to the coalition, the coalition says the SDF is a trusted force. “The key thing is to, for now, is to enable the fighters to complete their tasks. The SDF has done some extraordinary work. They really have. And they’ve done it very, very well. They’ve done it quickly. They’ve done it with a high degree of inventiveness,” General Anderson said. “We understand the follow-on requirements. And I know that the SDF is aware of those requirements. And we’ll continue to work that. This is a trusted partner force and it’s trusted for a reason. They’ve done exactly — every single time, they’ve done exactly what they said they would do,” he stated.
Until now, the SDF have taken about 45 square kilometers of ground from ISIS in and around the city of Raqqa this past week. “On Monday night, the SDF gained a foothold into the old city of Raqqa by breaching the ancient al-Rafiqa Wall, and they are now progressively pushing further into the city,” the coalition general said. “The SDF are exerting pressure on ISIS from four different fronts throughout the city. With a push to the east along the southern portion of the Euphrates River, ISIS is now completely encircled by SDF forces,” he added. “The fight in Raqqa is going well, but we know there will be tough days ahead. However, I’m confident that our partner forces are up to the task,” he concluded.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News