World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition said Thursday it is facilitating joint talks with Turkey and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
"These meetings are starting points in addressing a challenging situation," coalition spokesman Air Force Col. John Dorrian told reporters during a video briefing from Baghdad.
The SDF is primarily comprised of the YPG, which Turkey views as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK. Turkey, along with the U.S. and the EU have designated the PKK a terror group.
The U.S., however, does not similarly label the YPG, or the SDF, and has extensively relied on the latter to roll back ISIL inside Syria.
The SDF is currently carrying out a campaign to oust ISIL from its self-declared Syrian capital of Raqqah -- a major goal of the U.S.-led coalition as it seeks to eliminate ISIL from territories under its control in the region.
The coalition has carried out approximately 300 airstrikes in support of the forces in the past month alone, Dorrian said.
He said liberating territory in northern Syria "has freed up thousands of civilians from" ISIL, and many of the displaced are heading to nearby Manbij, which the SDF secured in August.
"Unfortunately as they move in that direction, and even as they find refuge in and around the city, they're being targeted by ISIL small arms and IED attacks," Dorrian said.
A contingent of Arab fighters has allowed the SDF to establish "a governance structure representative of the local population" in Manbij, and a "similar model" is being planned for Raqqah, he added.
There are currently more than 1,500 fighters training to join the SDF, Dorrian said, and more than 90 percent of graduates are Arab.
The SDF now has an elite force of 45,000 fighters, including 13,000 Arabs, from Raqqah, according to Dorrian.Last Mod: 09 Aralık 2016, 09:30