US refuses to cooperate with Russia in Raqqa campaign, says its forces only work with SDF in anti-ISIS operations

Kurdish fighters of the YPG and YPJ, who participate in the SDF operations in northern Aleppo, are seen gathered near the Tishreen Dam after liberating it from ISIS militants. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

KOBANE – The United States will not need any Russian support to take Raqqa from ISIS, and will only work with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US State Department spokesman said in response to comments made by the Russian Foreign Minister.

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov has said that Moscow would like to coordinate with the U.S. coalition and the Kurds in the offensive to take northern Raqqah from the Islamic State (ISIS).

However, the US made clear that they only want to work with the Russians for Geneva’s Syrian peace talks and to implement a ceasefire on the ground in Aleppo and Damascus to stop the killing and move towards elections and a transitional government in Syria.

I would just say that right now, first and foremost, we’re focused on engaging with Russia in terms of upholding and strengthening the cessation of hostilities, and we believe it’s important that Russia focus on ensuring that all parties live up to the commitments that they’ve made and that Russia uses its influence on the Assad regime to, again, to uphold the ceasefire,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said on Tuesday. 

“[Regarding Raqqa] we do continue to work and support the efforts of the Syrian Democratic Forces to retake territory from Daesh and further isolate its transportation, communications, supply routes into Raqqa in order to really choke off their hold on that city,” he said, using an acronym for ISIS.

Moreover, the US government does not believe that the Assad-regime is really fighting ISIS.

“Our only objection is that far too often we’ve seen the [Assad] government claim to be hitting ISIS targets, and in fact, they’re hitting opposition groups who are part of the cessation of hostilities for strategic gain for – to hit their supply lines, whatever the rationale is behind it,” Toner said.

Moreover, the US State Department’s spokesman said that the Syrian regime has carried out unspeakable violence against its citizens for the past five years although they liberated Palmyra from ISIS. “If you want to go over and categorize and catalog all those unspeakable acts, I’m happy to do that. But let me finish. What I did say is that Daesh/ISIL is a common enemy,” he stated.

Speaking to ARA News, Salih Gheddo, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Left Party, said that the Russian government is not interested in Kurds.

“The goal of Russia is to help the Syrian regime. They want to speak good about Kurds, because of their growing problems with Turkey over the last six months,” Gheddo said.

However, the Kurdish official believes that the Kurds still should have relations with the Russian government.

“If we have good relations with Russia it’s better, because they play a big role in Syria,” he said.

In the meantime, senior Kurdish leader from the TEV-DEM party Abdulselam Mohammed told ARA News the goal of Russia is not to help Kurds.

“Russia is a friend of the Assad regime and Iran, it’s not our friend,” he said. “If Syrians sit together, they can decide their own future,” he added.

Nevertheless, the Syrian Kurds are worried that America only wants to use the Kurds to fight the Islamic State, and not to recognize their political rights.

The Kurds hope that in the future, the Americans will help them to become part of the peace talks as an independent delegation. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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