US-backed Syrian forces are now about 30 kilometers from the ISIS-held city of Raqqa, using hundreds of American and coalition air strikes to defeat the “light-to-moderate” resistance it has faced so far. Syrian Democratic Forces have retaken about 700 kilometers from ISIS on this approach, with more than 600 coalition airstrikes hitting ISIS targets such as vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, tactical units, and other ISIS assets, said British Army Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, in a Wednesday briefing. SDF forces have shown they are “quite capable” of defeating ISIS on the way to Raqqa, and they are not planning the “next phase of isolation” of the city. US special operations troops have pushed into Syria with these forces, and Turkish troops also are making their own approach to the city.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.