US forming a Raqqa supply line
The United States’ preparations regarding the Raqqa operation have accelerated; they have started forming supply lines and delivering logistics equipment. A portion of the heavy weapons have already arrived, but more will come.
The U.S.’ Raqqa plan is not clear yet. The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command (Centcom) obviously want to conduct the Raqqa operation with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and not with Turkey. It is up to the political will now. U.S. President Donald Trump found the Raqqa plan prepared during the Obama era inadequate and ordered a new plan to be prepared. The new Raqqa plan has been submitted to Trump who has not made a decision yet. The Pentagon took advantage of Trump’s indecisiveness and moved ahead, with preparations by military units accelerating.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar presented the Raqqa plan to U.S. Chief of General Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at a meeting at the İncirlik Air Base. The plan suggested in general that the Free Syrian Army and local Arab components within the Syrian Democratic Forces and Roj Peshmarga units could conduct a joint operation with intense air support from Turkey and the U.S., as well as the Turkish and American special forces.
As long as it is not rejected, the Raqqa plan of Ankara is on the table, but Turkey’s option looks weak. The U.S. has been investing in the YPG for three years in joint operation and training. In the past year, it started giving it heavy weapons.
The Pentagon indicated its intentions on Raqqa by showing its flag in Manbij. The U.S., which prevented a Manbij operation against the YPG, created major difficulties during the al-Bab operation while it was cleared of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Despite all this, Turkey cleared ISIL from Jarablus, Dabiq and al-Bab. With the Euphrates Shield Operation Turkey prevented the unification of the Afrin and Kobane cantons. The U.S. is annoyed because of this. Also, they find it dangerous for their long-term plans that the Turkish military presence is controlling a region up to al-Bab.
The dominant thought in Ankara is that the Raqqa operation has been delayed until the end of April or beginning of May. Planning and preparations are ongoing. Looking at the work in the field, there is a feeling that the operation will start even earlier.
The Pentagon’s Raqqa plan submitted to Trump has two legs, the Syrian and the Iraqi legs. U.S. Special Forces are expected to be airlifted to Arbil or Tal Afar, then enter Syria from there following the Sinjar line and passing the Rabia gate. The 4,000 Roj Peshmargas the U.S. had trained in Dohuk will go in beforehand to secure the operation line.
There will be a high-capacity supply line in Sinjar. In the Raqqa planning, YPG and Roj Peshmarga units will conduct the Raqqa siege; the U.S. will provide support with intense air strikes. The American Special Forces will step in during urban operations.
Here is a new piece of information: Photographs have started arriving of the advance guards that have reached the Raqqa border.
There is also the other side of the coin. Under the name of Raqqa operation, the U.S. is equipping the YPG with heavy weapons. The U.S. has a characteristic. When the operation is over, it does not withdraw these weapons.
In Iraq, it did not take back the weapons it brought during the invasion. Well, what will it do with the weapons it has given to the YPG? Apparently, it will not take them back. Where will the YPG direct these weapons? Of course at us.
The issue will not end with the completion of the Raqqa operation together with the YPG, as there is still the aftermath yet to come.