Fight against Islamic State in Raqa 'will not be easy': Ashton Carter

Washington: US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned on Sunday that the fight to wrest control of Raqa, the Islamic State group stronghold in Syria, "will not be easy."

"The effort to isolate, and ultimately liberate Raqa marks the next step in our coalition campaign plan," Carter said in a statement.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a news conference with US Army Lt General Stephen Townsend. Reuters

Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a news conference with US Army Lt General Stephen Townsend. Reuters

"As in Mosul, the fight will not be easy and there is hard work ahead, but it is necessary to end the fiction of IS' caliphate and disrupt the group's ability to carry out terror attacks against the United States, our allies and our partners," he said, using an alternative name for the jihadist group.

"The international coalition will continue to do what we can to enable local forces in both Iraq and Syria to deliver IS the lasting defeat it deserves," the US defense chief added.

Carter issued his remarks as US-backed Kurdish-Arab forces launched an offensive on the Islamic State group's de facto Syrian capital Raqa, increasing pressure on the jihadists who are already battling Iraqi troops in Mosul.

The offensive's "first phase will be to isolate Raqa," the US Central Command told AFP, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were vital to the mission.

"We believe the inclusion of fighters from the local population is an important advantage to the SDF."

A US official source told AFP that recruitment of local forces is ongoing, adding that "it will likely be Arab forces – forces that largely mirror the population of the city – that will have to go into the city."

The start of the assault by the SDF came as Iraqi forces fought inside Mosul for the third day running, with the jihadists putting up fierce resistance.

The two cities are the last major urban centers under IS control after the jihadists suffered a string of territorial losses in Iraq and Syria over the past year.

The US-led coalition battling IS is backing both assaults, hoping to deal a knockout blow to the self-styled "caliphate" the group declared in mid-2014.

The operation, dubbed "Wrath of the Euphrates", involves some 30,000 fighters and began late Saturday.

Updated Date: Nov 07, 2016 07:56 AM

Also Watch

Watch: The true stories from Dharavi that inspired Rajinikanth's Kaala
  • Thursday, March 8, 2018 Watch: Cyrus Khan talks about Parkour, jumping across walls and why he hates sitting
  • Thursday, May 31, 2018 Unwind: India's basketball sensation Amjyot Singh has his eyes set on becoming an NBA regular
  • Monday, May 28, 2018 First Day First Showsha — Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story in 10 questions
  • Saturday, May 19, 2018 Social Media Star: Rajkummar Rao and Bhuvan Bam open up about selfie culture, online trolls

Also See