Another City, Different Complications

The fight to liberate Raqqa, Syria, from ISIS will begin within a matter of weeks, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Monday during a press briefing. Cook said an isolation phase will begin in a few weeks, followed by the actual assault. Last week, Army Lt. Gen Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said the fight will look different than the effort to take Mosul as the coalition hopes to recruit local-area fighters to liberate and hold the Syrian city, but that it needs to happen “soon” because ISIS is planning external operations there. But the conflict between Turkey and Kurdish fighters complicates that plan because the Syrian Democratic Forces is the only force capable in the near term, Townsend said. Cook said negotiations with Turkey are ongoing. “We’ll continue to work closely with all the members of the coalition in terms of timing, in terms of sequence,” he said. (See also: The Fight Against ISIS, After Mosul and Raqqa.)