US-led coalition may strike ISIS in Raqqa as Mosul battle intensifies

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ISIS militants during a parade in central Raqqa, the group's major stronghold in northern Syria. File photo

ARA News 

Duhok – US Defence Chief Ashton Carter on Sunday said that the international coalition and its local allies should start an operation to isolate the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria’s Raqqa city.

Raqqa is ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria, while Mosul is the group’s de facto capital in Iraq. As the joint Iraqi-Kurdish assault on Mosul has intensified, ISIS started to fortify its headquarters in Raqqa.  

Carter, who visited the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Sunday to discuss the Mosul operation, said: “We want to see an isolation operation begin around Raqqa as soon as possible.”

“We are working with our partners [in Syria] to do that,” he said. “There will be some simultaneity to these two operations [in Mosul and Raqqa].”

According to Carter, the US-led coalition had considered launching simultaneous operations against ISIS earlier. “This idea has been part of our planning for quite a while,” he said.

ISIS on Wednesday tightened its security measures in the city of Raqqa. According to eyewitnesses and activists, the extremist group has imposed a curfew in the city centre, installed new checkpoints and erected concrete road blocks. There has also been a two-week-long state of alert amongst ISIS jihadists.

“ISIS erected barriers between major districts of Raqqa city,” media activist Abdulkarim al-Yousef told ARA News in Raqqa. “New security checkpoints have been installed across the city, including near the al-Naeem Roundabout, al-Muhafaza Square, Saad Bin Muaz Mosque and al-Zedan Square.”

While ISIS tightened its internal security, ISIS vehicles arrived in Raqqa, coming from Iraq. According to S Awad, an eyewitness, “More than 20 vehicles crossed the border and entered Raqqa on Tuesday at midnight, carrying ISIS militants and weapons.”

The Islamic State’s new redeployments and repression are likely related to the advances being made by US-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces. On Monday, allied forces began the battle for Mosul and rapidly progressed towards the would-be Caliphate’s Iraqi capital.

Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri | Source: ARA News 

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