Syria conflict: US-led coalition laying 'groundwork' for 'isolation' of Raqa

Paris: The US-led coalition is "laying the groundwork" for the "isolation" of Raqa, the Islamic State
group stronghold in Syria, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said.

"We have already begun laying the groundwork for our partners to commence the isolation of Raqa," Carter said after meeting coalition defence ministers in Paris to discuss the aftermath of the planned capture of Mosul from IS in Iraq.

A file photo of Ashton Carter. AP

A file photo of Ashton Carter. AP

"Today we resolved to follow through with that same sense of urgency and focus on enveloping and collapsing Islamic State's control of Raqa," he added.

Carter said the coalition would rely on "capable and motivated local forces that we identify and then enable" to wrest the city from the Sunni extremists.

"That is our general strategic approach. We are seeking a lasting defeat of IS and a lasting defeat can't be achieved by outside. It can only be achieved by those who live there," he said, adding: "These will be Syrians enabled by us."

Carter was among a dozen ministers from coalition members attending the talks, which come a week after Iraqi forces backed by Kurdish fighters launched a major operation to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city.

Addressing the gathering French President Francois Hollande reiterated warnings about IS fighters in Mosul
fleeing across the border to Raqa. He also urged vigilance over the risk of foreign jihadists returning home from the battlefield.

Updated Date: Oct 26, 2016 08:50 AM

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