The US plans on staying in Raqqa and providing humanitarian aid after liberating it from ISIS, the US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press-conference on October 18.
“The liberation of Raqqa from ISIS’s brutal control is near,” she said. “We estimate that Raqqa is now 90 percent cleared and we are continuing to support our Syrian Democratic Forces to pressure the few areas where pockets of ISIS fighters now remain.”
She added that once Raqqa is liberated, the US along with its coalition partners will work on demining the city first. Following that, getting electricity up and clean water running is the priority. Nauert compared the process to the one in Mosul.
“The United States and our allies have prepared for next steps and will continue to work with partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need and support the stabilization efforts in Raqqa and other liberated areas to include the removal of explosives left behind by ISIS, restoring basic services, and supporting local governing bodies,” Nauert said.
She noted that the US will maintain “the support a credible political process for the future of Syria.”
The siege of Raqqa took four months, mainly conducted by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) heavily depending on the US-led coalition’s military assistance. The Independent previously reported the same day that SDF have liberated Raqqa, the de-facto ISIS capital, despite still facing pockets of resistance.
This statement may seem fairly innocuous, but in reality it is a serious declaration of intent. The US are set on staying in Syria, with the SDF acting out as their proxy in order to maintain its political presence using the “Kurdish question”.
Most likely “an independent state” in the SDF-held area is out of the question, but it may just become a heavily US-affiliated enclave, which will generate a lot of problems for all the neighboring countries just by virtue of existing. This is a possibility that would potentially become very troublesome, unless some sort of agreement could be reached among the global and local players involved in the conflict.