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US-Led Coalition Amassed Enough Arab Force for Raqqa Campaign – US Officials

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According to US military officials, there are about 23,000 Arab fighters in Syria, who are ready to fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Raqqa.

US-Led Coalition Amassed Enough Arab Force for Raqqa Campaign - US Officials

A fighter reacted this month after his brother died during an offensive against Islamic State terrorists near al-Bab in northern Syria (Photo: Reuters / Khalil Ashawi)

Currently, there are about 23,000 Arab fighters in Syria, who are ready to fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Raqqa, and, according to US military officials, it is the enough number of the ground forces to vanquish the enemy in the city, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported, citing multiple officials, familiar with the situation on the ground inside Syria.

US military officials said that assessing the number of forces on the ground is a challenge, but, at the same time, they noted that the number 23,000 was repeatedly confirmed.

As the US military told the Wall Street Journal, some part of these Arab fighters have been recruited from camps filled with Syrian refuges, who left their homes due to the war. Though, they are not professionally trained, these fighters are motivated to fight against the IS.

However, the newspaper also noted that the US assessment of the number of Arabs, ready to join the fight against the IS in Raqqa, is questioned by some Arab rebel groups, allied to the US-led coalition in Syria.

According to one Syrian tribal leader, who works with the US-led coalition, the US figures were released “merely to create media buzz.” He noted that these Arab fighters are already a part of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and their number is around 1,200.

The newspaper also quoted words of another rebel official, Mahmood Al-Hadi, whose faction is one of the largest Arab groups within the anti-Islamic State coalition. Al-Hadi claims that the Arab force consists just of 1,500 fighters. “In reality there are not thousands of Arab fighters,” the rebel official said.

The US intends to use the Arab forces in Syria in order to iron out their political differences with Turkey, as well as to assuage concerns both in Syria and in Turkey that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) will not try to grab and hold additional Syrian territories. Ankara considers the YPG as an offshoot of an internationally designated terror group in Turkey and is very discontented with the fact that the US support YPG fighters on the Syrian territory.

In any way, the offensive on Raqqa will not start until the US and Turkey will repair their relations, the newspaper stressed.

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