The Fight for Raqqa Begins

The Syrian Democratic Forces began its advance toward Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday. “The effort to isolate, and ultimately liberate, Raqqa marks the next step in our coalition campaign plan,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a statement released Sunday afternoon. “As in Mosul, the fight will not be easy and there is hard work ahead, but it is necessary to end the fiction of ISIL’s caliphate and disrupt the group’s ability to carry out terror attacks against the United States, our allies, and our partners.” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Monday the SDF had “encountered resistance” so far, but they continue to receive support from coalition airstrikes. Cook said ISIS is under pressure and finding it “harder to move between its territory.” He declined to discuss details of US support, but said US forces continue to “provide the advise and assist mission.” He reiterated that the Syrian campaign will look different than the fight to retake Mosul, Iraq, because the United States does not have any “formal government forces or conventional military operating in Syria.”