The United States confirmed the establishment of “security zones” in Syria and Iraq


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Wednesday, March 22, in Washington hosted a meeting of countries participating in the US-led coalition against ISIS (banned in Russia as a terrorist organization), which was attended by the U.S. Secretary Rex Tillerson, the foreign Ministers and official representatives of 68 States. Meeting of the coalition took place after a two year break. Representatives of Russia were not invited because “it is not a member of the coalition,” explained state Department spokesman mark Toner.

“The defeat of ISIL is for the US, the number one goal in the region,” said Tillerson. He said that 75% of the military resources of the allied forces in Syria and Iraq are getting from Washington. “I am asking every member country to assess how it can better support the stabilization efforts, especially in terms of military and financial resources,” urged the Secretary of state.

Thanks to the efforts of the coalition, the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq dropped by 90% also said Tillerson. For the year, thanks to counter-intelligence was reduced by 75% and promotional activities of ISIS on the Internet, was closed about 475 thousand of Twitter accounts associated with the Islamists, cited data from the Secretary of state.

How the new administration will change the US military presence in the region, the Secretary said. However, informed that one of the new elements of the strategy will be the creation of “security zones” in Syria and Iraq, who will be able to return the refugees. According to Tillerson, the US and its partners intend to allocate more than $2 billion for humanitarian needs in Syria and Iraq, mine clearance and the provision of electricity and water.

The conference was attended by the Prime Minister of Iraq Haidar al-Abadi, who assured that Iraq is in the final stage of elimination of LIH. Al-Abadi said that in the liberated Eastern part of Mosul has opened 250 schools and resumed the work of the hospitals, and the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah have returned nearly 70% of the population in Tikrit — almost 90%.

In General, the plan of the US administration on fighting ISIS became known in the end of February. The task to develop it immediately after the inauguration of Donald trump. He has repeatedly criticized his predecessor Barack Obama for lack of fight against terrorists, however, as it became known, NBC, trump’s project is a little different from the strategy the previous administration. According to NBC, the trump plan assumes the continued application of coalition strikes on the positions of terrorists, increase support to local forces, withdrawal of the ISIL funding sources.

The fight against ISIS in numbers

According to the U.S. Department of state in Iraq and Syria there are more than 9 thousand military personnel from 23 countries participating in the coalition. In 2014, coalition aircraft struck more than 19 thousand strikes on ISIS targets, eliminating tens of thousands of jihadists and more than 180 leaders of the group middle and senior managers, the number of terrorists has decreased more than twice. Supported by a coalition of local forces liberated approximately 62% of ISIS controlled territories in Iraq and 30% in Syria. Military instructors have trained about 90 thousand members of the Iraqi security forces, the government army, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and militias from Arab tribes.

Loss of LIH

In Iraq the coalition and government forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces involved in the liberation of the West Bank of Mosul from ISIS. In Syria, coalition aircraft strikes on militant positions in the North of the country, in the provinces of Aleppo and raqqa, but without coordination with the Syrian government.

On the day of the meeting in Washington, the Syrian state Agency SANA reported the air strikes of the international coalition forces in the school building in the South of the city of al-Mansoura in raqqa province, killing dozens of civilians, since the school building was occupied by refugees from other places (last week it was also reported coalition air strike on the mosque in the village of al-Gina, in the province of Aleppo). The Pentagon responded by saying that the blow was delivered by US aircraft, not at school, and meeting place of the leaders of “al-Qaeda”.

According to estimates , this year (from January 1 through March 22) in Iraq, the ISIS-held area territories have not changed: terrorists still control about 5% of the territory of the country. In Syria during the same period, they lost a significant part of the territories: if 1 January, the militants controlled about 27.3% of the whole territory of Syria, as of March 22 — 23.6% area (based on map analysis Liveuamap).

The success of the coalition in Syria could be considered offensive by Kurds in Raqqa as part of operation “Wrath of the Euphrates”. They managed to block the main road from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor, thereby cutting off the troops of LIH last escape route. The U.S. military put the Kurds weapons and support them on the ground. British Agency The Spectator reported on March 22 about the landing of us Marines in the town of Tabqa in Northern Syria, near Raqqa. Earlier, the “Democratic forces of Syria” (SDF), consisting mainly of the Kurdish militia, reported that the Pentagon is planning to send to Syria 1 thousand troops to assist the SDF in the battle for Raqqa.

The main ISIS territory lost in the North and North-West of Syria through the efforts of a member of the international coalition of Turkey, Russia, and the government troops. In February, the Islamists were driven out of the city of El-Baba forces of the Syrian armed opposition and Turkish troops in a joint operation “shield of the Euphrates”, which goes from August 2016. The troops of Bashar al-Assad are active offensive East of Aleppo, to March 13, the government army managed to reach the Western Bank of the Euphrates. On March 2, the Syrian army with the support of the Russian space forces and the allied forces regained control of Palmyra.

Kurdish-Turkish bridge

“While dozens of countries continue to discuss the fight against ISIS, Russia and fighting ISIS day and night every day. To achieve success in the fight against ISIS without the broadest possible international cooperation is impossible,” commented the Washington conference by the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov.

Trump during the election campaign advocated cooperation between Russia and the United States in the fight against ISIS in Syria, but so far Moscow and Washington do not coordinate their actions, says mark Katz, an expert of the Valdai club, Professor of public administration and policy, George Mason University (USA). In his opinion, to defeat of ISIL requires deeper interaction between Russia and the United States, but this may prevent disagreement about the role of Iran in Syria.

The plan presented by the Pentagon in late February, did not expect cooperation with Russia, the fight against terrorism will be carried out by different forces alone, says the Deputy Director of the Center for comprehensive European and international studies, NRU HSE Dmitry Suslov. “Russia, together with Turkey, Iran and Assad’s forces focused on defeating the “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra” and elements of ISIS that are not in the area of Raqqa, while in other regions of Syria, and the U.S. coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s raqqa, primarily relying on the Kurds and capable participants of the Arab Syrian opposition”, — the expert explains. According to him, the cooperation of Turkey, member of the international coalition, with Russia in tripartite format allows you to “create a bridge and to carry out indirect coordination” between Moscow and Washington.

The lack of interaction of the forces opposing ISIS on the ground, lowers the effectiveness of the fight, I agree Katz. He notices that the leading force in the fight against ISIS are the Kurdish defense units YPG and YPJ, supported by Moscow, and Washington.

Until recently, the Kurds are not coordinated with the government army of Syria and the Russian military. However, on 2 March, with the mediation of Moscow Kurdish groups gave the Syrian army a part of territories under their control to the West of Manuja on the frontline with the forces of the “Shield of the Euphrates”. In addition, on 20 March it became known that the Russian military presence in the North-West of the province of Aleppo, near the Kurdish-controlled city Afrina.

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