Riyadh ready to join battle for Raqqa | World Defense

Riyadh ready to join battle for Raqqa


Dec 5, 2014
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Riyadh ready to join battle for Raqqa
ARAB NEW | Published — Friday 28 October 2016


JEDDAH/IRBIL: Saudi Arabia is committed to fighting terrorism and is willing to participate in the upcoming battle for Raqqa against Daesh if asked to do so, Arab coalition spokesman Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri told Arab News on Thursday.

“We are part of the international coalition against Daesh, which includes 62 countries. Since 2014, we have carried out more than 200 sorties and airstrikes against Daesh militias. Saudi Arabia is committed as part of the international coalition to fighting Daesh in Syria either by deploying its jetfighters from inside the Kingdom or via its warplanes based at the Incirlik base in Turkey,” he said.

As for land troop mobilization, Al-Assiri said the member states of the international coalition, during their last meeting in Washington, DC, agreed that only local Syrian ground troops should be involved in the battles against Daesh, supported by air coverage from the coalition air forces.

Regarding the Iraqi battle for Mosul, Al-Assiri said Saudi Arabia has no interest in taking part in the ongoing battle, adding that the Kingdom never participated in any operations in Iraq before, and that it cannot be involved in operations in which the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are involved.

Meanwhile, the United States said Thursday up to 900 Daesh radicals have been killed in the offensive to retake Mosul, as camps around the city filled with fleeing civilians.

Iraqis who fled their homes expressed joy at escaping Daesh’s brutal rule as they were given shelter and assistance, in some cases reuniting with relatives they had not seen in more than two years.

The offensive, launched on Oct. 17, is seeing tens of thousands of Iraqi fighters advancing on Mosul from the south, east and north in a bid to retake the last major Iraqi city under Daesh control. Backed with air and ground support from a US-led coalition, federal forces allied with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have taken a string of towns and villages in a cautious but steady advance.

Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads the US military's Central Command, told AFP the offensive was inflicting a heavy toll on the extremists.

“Just in the operations over the last week and a half associated with Mosul, we estimate they've probably killed about 800-900 Daesh fighters,” Votel said in an interview.

There are between 3,500 and 5,000 Daesh militants in Mosul and up to another 2,000 in the broader area, according to US estimates.

Votel also said he had spoken with Iraqi military leaders late Tuesday who told him that as of that time, 57 members of the Iraqi security forces had been killed and another 255 or so wounded.

For the Kurdish regional Peshmerga forces, numbers were lower, with about 30 killed and between 70 and 100 wounded.

The offensive has so far been concentrated in towns and villages around Mosul, with Iraqi forces later expected to breach city limits and engage the terrorists in street-to-street fighting.

Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration said Thursday that more than 11,700 people had been displaced since the operation began.

“There's been quite a dramatic upturn in the last few days. As the Iraqi troops get closer to Mosul, more people are getting displaced, there are more populated areas,” said Karl Schembri, regional media adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

At a camp in Khazir, about mid-way between Mosul and the Iraqi Kurdish capital Irbil, Massud Ismail Hassan peered through a chainlink fence, looking for family members as Peshmerga fighters registered the displaced.

Saddam Dahham, who lived under Daesh control in a village near Mosul for more than two years, fled to Khazir with his wife and their three children.

“We were not allowed to smoke, to use phones, not allowed to watch TV and we had to let our beards grow long,” said the 36-year-old.

One of the first things he did after arriving at the camp was joyfully shave the “heavy thing dangling from my chin,” Dahham said. “I'm finally going to resume a normal life,” the former truck driver said.

Meanwhile, Turkey's president told his American counterpart that Turkey is ready to kick Daesh out of their capital Raqqa in Syria.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey-backed opposition fighters inside Syria will eventually reach Raqqa after securing the towns of Al-Bab and Manbij.

“Last night we had a long conversation with Obama and shared our plans with him . We said, 'Come let's kick Daesh out of Raqqa together,'” he said. Erdogan added that he urged that the operation take place without involvement of Syrian Kurdish forces.

— With input from agencies


Nov 27, 2014
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Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
I think we should joint with Turkey in any military operation in Syria. We should not be part of the U.S campaign.