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Iran Press TV

US-led coalition air-drops allied militants near Daesh-held Raqqah

Iran Press TV

Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:0PM

The US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group has air-dropped ground forces near Syria's militant-held northern city of Raqqah in what the US military describes as preparations to recapture the extremists' main stronghold in the Arab country.

The Pentagon said in a statement on Wednesday that US military aircraft had airlifted members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militant group near Tabqa, located 40 kilometers from Raqqah, providing air support for them to retake a major dam -- most commonly known as Euphrates Dam -- that remains in the hands of Daesh extremists.

The SDF, a Kurdish-dominated and anti-Damascus alliance, said US forces had also been deployed with them in the airdrop. It noted that the operation also aims to block any advance by Syrian government forces from the western flank of Raqqah.

A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the airdrop took place on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, US Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US forces purportedly fighting Daesh, said talks were under way with Turkey on the role Ankara might play in the operation to liberate Raqqah.

"We are engaged in discussions with the Turks on how they might participate in the liberation of Raqqah and I don't know what the numbers of their participation might be," media outlets quoted the US military official as saying.

Washington currently has about 500 Special Operations troops in Syria. However, their activities have been limited to what the Pentagon describes as training and assisting Kurdish forces in their battle against Daesh and other terrorist groups.

Recently, General Joseph L. Votel, the commander of the US Central Command, said more American troops might be needed in Syria to step up their so-called campaign against Daesh.

Votel also secretly visited northern Syria to meet US-backed militant groups.

Turkey's Hurriyet daily newspaper reported in early February that Turkish military chief Hulusi Akar had presented his American counterpart, Joseph Dunford, with two plans for a potential operation said to liberate Raqqah.

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