05/28/2016, 18.37
SYRIA
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As Raqaa gets ready for an attack, IS gets to flee into the desert

Kurdish come within 45 kilometres of the city. Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohamad Al Adnani is already talking about “defeat” and “pullout”. US servicemen helping Kurdish fighters on the ground irks Turkey. An autonomous Syrian Kurdistan is in the making.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Fighting rages near Raqqa between US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the army of the self-proclaimed "Islamic Caliphate" now under the command of Abu Mohamad Al Adnani, hitherto spokesman for the Islamic State (IS) group.

Things are not going as IS expected, as evinced by its spokesman’s words. In 2014, Al Adnani stressed territorial conquest, calling on IS followers to go beyond seizing Baghdad, Raqqa and Damascus, and take and raze Najaf and Karbala and kill all Iraqi "infidels".

In his last statement on 21 May on al Furqan, the IS media arm in Raqqa, he said that "defeats in cities or territories are defeats. Losing Mosul, Sirte or Raqqa or even all the cities and going into the desert is not a loss,” but rather" a push to advance further. [. . .] Seizing cities and holding them is not one of Daesh’s objectives.” Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

IS militants thus appear to be planning to pull back into the desert, and leave the caliphate’s capital. Just a few weeks ago, they had issued black-covered passports for “Caliphate” citizens.

IS’s defeats have irked Turkey, which slammed what it called US hypocrisy for fighting with the Kurds of the Syrian Democratic Forces against IS after Agence France Presse yesterday published pictures of US ground forces with Kurdish fighters (pictured 2). For its part, the Pentagon has refused to comment on the veracity of the published photos.

Many wonder whether IS has reached its end point in northern Syria. Gharib Hesso, representative of the Democratic Union Party, appears to think so in a recent interview with Russia’s Novosty news agency.

“As the assault on Raqqa is being led by the ‘Democratic forces of Syria’, it is logical that after its capture it will automatically be part of a democratic Federal system set up by us in the north of Syria,” Hesso said.

On the ground, fighting continues with US planes providing air support to the SDF. In the past three days, about 20 raids have enabled Kurdish forces to advance from three directions, in one case advancing to 45 kilometres from Raqqa.

Meanwhile, Moscow continues to urge Washington to join forces to support those fighting terrorists, i.e. the Syrian army. (PB)

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