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US puts off announcing decision on Raqqa until after Turkey referendum

The US military wants to work with local forces against the Islamic State in Raqqa, but still is working out many of the details, including who should hold what ground after IS is defeated.
American army vehicles drive north of Manbij city, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTS126K2

The Trump administration’s internal debate over how to capture Raqqa, the so-called capital of the Islamic State (IS), is continuing nearly two weeks after the Pentagon presented the White House with a detailed blueprint on how to do the job.

The US Central Command remains strongly in favor of moving ahead with the Syrian Kurdish group known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their Arab allies who operate under the umbrella of the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF). But concerns over Turkey, a critical NATO ally, are holding up plans to arm and train the SDF under the terms of a special presidential dispensation known as Section 1209 that permits the Pentagon to arm nonstate foreign militias. Turkey has repeatedly warned against giving the YPG modern sophisticated weapons, saying the group could transfer these to its ally, the Kurdistan Workers Party, which is fighting for autonomy inside Turkey.

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