Clash Looming? Russia-backed Syrian Army heading for ISIL’s al-Raqqa in race with US-backed Kurds

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Syrian Arab Army is advancing toward al-Raqqa city, the capital of the phony ISIS “caliphate,” with Russian air support. US Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Christopher Garver confirmed on Wednesday that the US has seen the movement of the troops of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad “to the south and west of Raqqa, and they are heading in that direction.”

Also on Wednesday, the Syrian air force destroyed equipment, fortifications and fighters of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) in Resafa, 40 miles southwest of al-Raqqa city.

That is also area that the Syrian army is now entering. It is five kilometers from Resafa’s main intersection. The Financial Times speculates that the regime of al-Assad may hope that by taking al-Raqqa away from so-called caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Ibrahim al-Samarra’i), it will then be able to make the claim that only it can deal effectively with Daesh, gaining support in the international community that is otherwise horrified by al-Assad’s crimes against humanity.

If the US-backed YPG or Self Defense Forces, a unit of Syria’s leftist Kurds, reaches al-Raqqa at the same time as the Syrian Arab Army, there could be a clash between the two over al-Raqqa. The Syrian Army deeply dislikes the YPG and has vowed to put them down.

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Related video:

R&U Video: “SAA operations in Raqqa | June 7th 2016”

Posted in Featured,Syria | 10 Responses | Print |

10 Responses

  1. The YPG would handle the Assad regime. The river is the natural boundary and either side may just on either side.
    Let’s note the irony of US backed leftist commies fighting Russian backed secular gov.

  2. A clash is unlikely, because while the Kurds have pushed towards Raqqa, it is in their interests to leave the capture of Raqqa to someone else, who will most probably be the Syrian Government forces.

    Raqqa is well outside the Kurds’ Rojava project. As much as the US would like Raqqa to be liberated by non-Government forces, as a step towards partitioning Syria, the Kurds would be reluctant to spill Kurdish blood to advance on it. For the Kurds, the area around Menbij and west to Afrin is the highest priority.

  3. The YPG has no interest in taking let alone holding al-Raqqa. They will back off and let the SAA take the city. The SAA has little to no reason to fight the Kurds at this point.

  4. “gaining support in the international community that is otherwise horrified by al-Assad’s crimes against humanity.”
    This might be a surprise to you. “international community” know who the bad guys are and who is fighting them.

    • “gaining support in the international community” obfuscates the situation. The international community was always divided: Russia and Iran supporting Al-Assad (with China neutral) and the United States hoping to depose Al-Assad. Following international law and not illegally sending financial and material support in the form of arms shipment to extremist groups in Syria should not be called “gaining support in the international community.” It should only be called following international law.

      So much of this is not about “bad guys” or “good guys,” but important political actors (the United States, Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia) eschewing international law for what they believe to be geopolitical gain. After more than five years of strife and Syria, hopefully they will realize that such geopolitical gain will not materialize and it’s time to pursue different strategy. On the margins, we are already beginning to see this happen: Europe and the United States are now starting to not support Saudi Arabia and Turkey in sending unlimited munitions to extremist groups. This shouldn’t be called “gaining support,” but just following international law.

    • Is the international community more horrified by Assad’s “crimes against humanity” or by beheadings, sexual slavery. archaelogical destruction and on and on.

  5. Russia is becoming bogged-down in Syria. History offers strategies to handle this situation.

    Mr. Putin can don a cod-piece, land on a close-by aircraft carrier and declare – VICTORY

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