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Syrian Arab Coalition SAC

The Syrian Arab Coalition [SAC] is the Arab component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The group of Sunni Arab brigades in northeastern Syria would serve as an alternative to a ground force the Obama administration had hoped to recruit from scratch, train and equip, but it lacked coherence and reliability, warn analysts and rival rebel commanders.

The loosely-coordinated group of Syrian rebel factions earmarked by U.S. officials as a proxy army to partner with in northern Syria, it was renamed the Syrian Arab Coalition in October 2015 by US military commanders. This came were in the wake of the apparent acceptance by the Obama administration that an 18-month program known as train-and-equip to raise an indigenous Syrian Arab rebel proxy force to work with the US to defeat IS had failed.

President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead at a meeting of the National Security Council 01 October 2015 for the Pentagon to start directly rearming Syrian Kurds and the “Arab-Syrian opposition” as part of a strategy to put pressure on the Islamic State and to isolate Raqqa. At the same time the U.S.-led coalition would intensify strikes on the terror group with increased sorties launched from the NATO base at Incirlik in southern Turkey.

The move came as Russia appeared to be on the brink of ratcheting up its intervention in Syria, adding a ground element to an aerial bombing campaign started last week — one that has shaken up an already complex battlefield and prompted comparisons to the proxy wars of the Cold War era. Russia planned to send “volunteer” troops to Syria to help buttress Moscow’s ally President Bashar al-Assad. The Kremlin claimed its main target was the same as Washington’s — namely, the Islamic State. That claim was questioned by Washington because most Russian airstrikes targeted anti-Assad rebels in western and central Syria as opposed to IS strongholds in the east.

The Syrian Arab Coalition, or SAC, was able to conduct the assault as part of the Syrian Defense Force “because we supplied the vetted … SAC with [50 tons of] ammunition on Oct. 12. This is important because [Hawl] is predominantly an Arab area and the SAC is the Arab component of the SDF.” Army Col. Steve Warren briefed Pentagon reporters live via video conference from Baghdad on November 4, 2015. The SDF is a large force made up of Syrian-Arabs, Christians and Kurds, Warren said, calling it a group of groups from various sects, religions and organizations “that have come together under a single purpose, which is to defeat ISIL.”

In early October 2015, Warren said, he told the press that U.S. forces would keep an eye on the initial 50 tons of ammunition to validate that it was distributed and used properly. “We have seen that,” he said. “We believe that the … 200-plus kilometers of ground that the Syrian-Arab coalition has managed to take, to some extent validates this program. … So I think you will see continued resupply of these forces [to] … reinforce the successes we've already seen.”

The October 2015 airlift of ammunition to an Arab-Kurdish coalition force in northeastern Syria known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) enabled the subsequent advance on the IS-held town of Al Hawl near the Iraqi border. Secretary of State John Kerry said February in 2016 that the Syrian Democratic Forces have retaken thousands of kilometers of territory from ISIL and cut off their supply routes.

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Page last modified: 24-02-2016 20:05:13 ZULU