Syrian Kurdish forces to push on IS capital this summer

Donald Trump to meet Erdoğan next Tuesday

The Kurdish-led forces said Friday they expect to advance on Raqqa this summer, following their capture of a strategic town and dam west of the city.

An SDF commander, identified only as Abdel-Qader, declined to specify dates at a news conference, citing tactical reasons. Syrian Free army and Kurdish forces will spearhead the assault on the city, but they are awaiting the supply of United States weapons, which the USA only authorised for the Kurds on Thursday, in a major policy change that infuriated the Turks.

Binali Yildirim, the Turkish prime minister, said Turkey was ready to step up its fight against the Syrian Kurds, despite Washington's decision to directly arm them for the fight to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday his visit to the United States next week could mark a "new beginning" in relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that were shaken by a U.S. decision to arm Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria.

Davis said that about 70 ISIS fighters "conceded to SDF terms, which included dismantling improvised explosive devices around the dam, surrendering all of its heavy weapons and forcing the withdrawal of all remaining fighters from Tabqa", he said, "The SDF accepted IS's surrender of the city to protect innocent civilians and to protect the Tabqa dam infrastructure". The Kurdish-led SDF launched the Wrath of Euphrates operation in November 2016 aimed at the liberation of Raqqa city from terrorists.

Regarding the US decision to arm Kurdish elements of the SDF, Davis said the arming has not yet begun.

The statement said that the SDF succeeded to capture the city after a joint airdrop of forces with the coalition near Tabqa on March 21, which was followed by a "precise" operation to capture the city.

Kurdish officials have never said anything about conquering Raqqa for somebody else, and it would be unusual for the group to be willing to commit so heavy to the invasion of a city if they didn't have designs on incorporating it into their self-declared autonomous region. From May 8 through May 11, at least 50 and as many as 70 more Syrian men, women and children died in US or coalition strikes, with another 43-133 wounded casualties, according to media and monitor sources. Yesterday, more than 1,200 people were bused out of rebel-controlled districts of Damascus as part of a settlement bringing Syria's government closer to controlling the whole capital. The American strategy in Syria continues to juxtapose the fight against Daesh with its active support of the YPG to extend its spheres of influence over the Syrian-Kurdish militants, a strategy that is in direct contravention of Turkey's national security interests. Delegates are set to meet again in Geneva next week. Not even one per million.

SANA said a cameraman and a reporter for Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam TV, as well as a cameraman for Lebanon's Al-Manar TV of the militant Hezbollah group, were wounded in the Shoumariyeh Mountains east of Homs city.

The Pentagon said Isis had been using the dam as a "key coordination hub" after territorial losses in northern Syria saw the group move its foreign fighters and external attack planning to Tabqa in an effort to divert air strikes.

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