“We don’t have any plans to incorporate them at this time. We’re working with the [Kurdish-led] Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Arab Coalition and we’re open to working with others if everyone will get on the same page and work to defeat IS,” U.S. Air Force Col John L. Dorrian Spokesman said on Thursday.
“At a minimum, we look to de-conflict our operations with some of the actors. The coalition is present. We continue to discuss the possibility of a Turkish role and then we work with the Syrian Democratic Forces who continue to build their force,” he added.
Dorrian added that he expects the Kurds to be involved in the Raqqa operation. “With regard to whether the YPG will be a part of the force, I think I’d like to leave it at we would expect Kurds to be involved. And that’s probably about where we’re at,” he said.
“Again, there are Kurds in the city. There have been Kurds that lived in Raqqa for, you know, a very long time. And we expect the demographic makeup of the force that liberates the city will likely reflect the residents of the city, either the present ones or the historic presence within the city. So, we do expect there to be Kurds involved,” the US colonel said.
Furthermore, the coalition official stressed that they will continue to work with the SDF. “Yes, we work with the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Coalition. That’s the force that we’re working by, with and through to isolate Raqqa,” he said.
“We’re working with the [SDF-led] Manbij Military Council in Manbij city to help them maintain security in the city. We worked very closely with Turkey on their operation to liberate al-Bab. We work closely with the Iraqi security forces and often with the Peshmerga in Iraq,” he stated.
“With regard to the Kurds and whether they will be involved in liberating Raqqa, we do expect that they will be involved at some level. What I would say is we continue working with the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Coalition,” Colonel Dorrian said. “Right about 75 percent of that force that is now isolating Raqqa is Syrian Arab, and this is a reflection that’s demographically fairly consistent with what you would find in that area.”
“So that is a fundamental principle of the campaign, that we are going to try and generate with our partner force a force that’s fairly consistent with what you find in Raqqa, and that includes Syrian Arabs, that includes Kurds, that includes Syrians, Christians, all others. The Syrian Democratic Forces are a multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian organization, and that is one of the reasons why we’re working with them and they have continued to build the Arab element of their force,” he concluded.
Reporter’s code: 50101