The US led-coalition is laying the groundwork to push the Islamic State (ISIS) out of Raqqa in Syria, the city they have claimed as the capital of their caliphate.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated Tuesday at a news conference that there has been no delay in the intended commencement of the retaking of Raqqa, and that there will be “overlap” with the current battle to retake Mosul from ISIS in Iraq.
Carter also praised the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia for the gains they have made in the battle for Mosul.
“The collapse and destruction of ISIL in Iraq and Syria will destroy both the fact and the idea that there can be a caliphate based upon this ideology,” Carter said. “However, there will continue to be, and there are now, those there or elsewhere who aspire to either coordinate or inspire attacks on our homeland.”
Carter also noted that the Mosul campaign has already caused a reduction in the flow of foreign fighters joining ISIS.
Carter was speaking in Paris together with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian after a meeting with 11 other defense chiefs to discuss progress in the campaign to defeat ISIS. The ministers from 13 countries represent the largest military contributors to the counter-ISIS campaign. This is the fifth time the coalition has met, and another meeting is slated for the end of this year.
Le Drian told reporters that conquering Raqqa is a “strategic objective” and remains the primary objective.
One of the key topics the ministers discussed was the threat of ISIS plotting or instigating more attacks against Western targets. Le Drian said that even as ISIS’ plans to create a caliphate collapse physically because of the military campaign, its ideology remains a “virtual” threat by inspiring others to carry out terrorist attacks.
Mosul and Raqqa are ISIS’ two main strongholds, acting as the capital of the so-called caliphate and providing a source of revenue.
The Iraqi military, supported by US and coalition air power and military advisers, began the push to retake Mosul earlier this month. The battle is expected to take months.
By: World Israel News Staff
AP contribute to this report.