US arms Syrian Arab Coalition to combat ISIS in Raqqa

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Fighters of the SAC received US arms to combat ISIS in Raqqa alongside other factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Photo: CENTCOM Twitter

ARA News

Colonel Joseph Scrocca, U.S. Army, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs Director told ARA News on Tuesday that the US-led coalition is arming the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) to defeat ISIS in Raqqa.

“The [US-led] Coalition forces provide the SAC with AK47s, ammunition, medical supplies, heavy construction equipment, uniforms, communication equipment, and limited quantities of tactical vehicles,” Colonel Joseph Scrocca said.

“This equipment enables our partner forces to protect themselves and rid their homeland from a vicious common enemy, ISIS.  Building the capacity of this force helps enable the military defeat of ISIS in Raqqah and ultimately Syria,” Col. Scirocco told ARA News in an exclusive interview.

Although the Kurds do not directly receive weapons, the Arab component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are being provided with heavy weapons, and recently received armored vehicles from the US-led coalition to fight ISIS in Raqqa.

On 24 February, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) tweeted pictures showing Arab fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces receiving weapons after receiving training in Manbij.

Moreover, on 28 February, CENTCOM tweeted more pictures of female fighters being trained with AK-47s.

Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, who recently visited the Raqqa frontline told CBS Evening News that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces need more than the AK-47s weapons –that will be issued after 20 days of training– to fight ISIS in Raqqa.

“Anti-tank weapons systems to address the vehicle-born IEDs. Certainly mortars would be something of help,” Votel said. “Things that they would need of a force that’s going to conduct an assault,” he said on Sunday.

“The US military, out of respect for Turkey’s concerns, has carefully calibrated the types of weapons it provides the SDF and the Syrian Arab Coalition attached to it,” Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News.

“Now that it seems likely that it will be the SDF and the Syrian Arab Coalition that will be spearheading the campaign to siege and capture Raqqa, the US military wants to provide its Syrian partner forces with weapons needed to counter the tactics of its ISIS enemy,” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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