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Raqqa could have fallen, however Syrian humanitarian group nonetheless fears instability

After liberating Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the way forward for Syria stays unclear. The Trump administration heralded the battlefield success of the U.S.-backed forces, and repeated its pledge to suffocate ISIS’ expansionist efforts — but the pinnacle of the Syrian Civil Protection, a Syrian humanitarian group also called the White Helmets, is not fairly able to have fun.

“Not actually,” Raed Saleh responded in an interview with CBS Information, when requested if the Raqqa victory means something to him. “I am certain you might be stunned,” he added.

Saleh has aided victims of the nation’s incessant violence and fought the human rights abuses of the Assad regime because the civil conflict started in 2011. He’s of the opinion that successful one battle — even a victory that resulted within the fall of ISIS’ self-declared capital — does not assure peace and stability.

“When your metropolis is occupied by one terrorist group and it is liberated or taken over by one other group, and the image of one other terrorist is held up within the metropolis, this does not give us any happiness,” Saleh stated, referring to a photograph of the Kurdistan Employees Social gathering (PKK) chief Abdullah Ocalan brandished in Raqqa after it was liberated. Although the PKK is just not stated to be accountable for the town at the moment, Saleh warns that instability could come once more.

“At least some among the many individuals who entered Raqqa are undisciplined and can trigger bother sooner or later,” Saleh predected when he was in Washington, D.C. final week for a convention on American coverage in Syria.

The civil conflict, pushed by each terrorist teams and the federal government of President Bashar al Assad, has now left greater than 400,000 folks lifeless and pushed 11 million folks from their houses. Defeating ISIS is on the middle of the Trump administration’s overseas coverage in Syria. The liberation of Raqqa was essentially the most important accomplishment for the U.S.-based forces within the nation within the final yr.

“The defeat of ISIS in Raqqa represents a important breakthrough in our worldwide marketing campaign to defeat ISIS and its depraved ideology,” Trump stated in an announcement launched by the White Home. “With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the overwhelming majority of its territory, the tip of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.”

The Trump administration says it has “dramatically accelerated” the battle towards ISIS in Syria, principally via adjustments in authority that enable the army to behave with out the obstacle of layers of paperwork. Practically 30 p.c of the beneficial properties in complete territory towards ISIS by August occurred below the Trump administration, in line with a briefing earlier this yr by Brett McGurk, the State Division’s particular envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition. 

And the stream of ISIS militants popping out of Syria has been diminished to a trickle. Administration officers level out that ISIS propaganda has stopped encouraging followers to return to Syria to take up the battle. Taking Raqqa away from ISIS has additionally considerably impacted the messaging from the militant group, given that almost all of their directives originated from the town, the group’s declared capital. MgGurk factors out the uphill battle the group now faces in disseminating its messaging from small villages.

ISIS now holds much less that 10 p.c of the territory it as soon as held, in line with the administration, and it’s nonetheless finishing up assaults. It carried out an assault that value the lives of 4 American troopers in October. Afterward, Joint Chiefs of Employees Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford advised reporters that ISIS could be defeated when the group is now not in a position to function throughout a number of areas, and when its offshoots in particular person international locations may be “handled by native forces.”

However reaching that time, that’s, weakening ISIS to the purpose at which native forces have the flexibility to curtail ISIS and different terrorist teams in Syria, stays a battle as a result of there are not any authorities forces that may be relied upon for this. One other issue is the U.S. dedication that Assad can’t stay in energy, some extent lately repeated by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“The United States desires an entire and unified Syria with no function for Bashar Assad within the authorities,” Tillerson advised reporters final week after a gathering in Geneva about Syria. “The reign of the Assad household is coming to an finish, and the one concern is how that ought to be led to.”

The U.S. maintains assist for the Geneva course of in Syria, however attending to a spot the place there’s sufficient peace on the bottom to begin that course of can be a battle, Saleh stated. He doubts the political transition is as shut as some within the U.S. authorities assume it might be. Saleh intends to proceed his efforts to assist Syrians, and hopes that the collected efforts may over time end in peace for his nation. Whereas he nonetheless sees the Assad regime dropping barrel bombs and killing hundreds within the nation — and but, he doesn’t wholly belief the U.S. both.

“We observe human rights violations from all events and we speak about this once we meet with American and UN officers, however we do find yourself specializing in the regime’s violations,” says Saleh. “Not me, no different Syrians these days has nice hopes on anybody delivering on these large guarantees, large purple traces that we hold listening to (about). The barrel bombs hold dropping, and there’s no clear hope.”

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