US sends more military equipment from Iraq to Northern Syria

The head of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said a U.S.-backed assault to drive Islamic State from its de-facto capital Raqqa would begin at the start of April and the YPG would be taking part, despite fierce opposition from neighboring Turkey.

A spokesman for the U.S. Pentagon said no decision had been made yet on the Raqqa offensive, which is part of a two pronged attempt to dismantle the caliphate declared by Islamic State in parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

U.S.-backed forces, including the YPG, are closing in on the city and President Donald Trump has said he wants to accelerate efforts to crush the hardline militants, who are under siege by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in the much larger city of Mosul.

The comments by YPG commander Sipan Hemo to Reuters were the first indication of a date for an attack on Raqqa.

In a written reply to questions, Hemo, who rarely if ever appears in the media, said: “Regarding the decision to liberate Raqqa and storm it, the matter is decided and at the start of the month of April the military operation will begin.”

He added: “We believe that liberating Raqqa will not take more than a number weeks.” His comments were relayed via a YPG spokesman.

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