United States pledges safe zones in Syria for refugees

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In turn, the USA military has nurtured its own local partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces coalition, and its adjutant force the Syrian Arab Coalition, a Kurdish-majority, multi-ethnic coalition that includes a rising number of local Arabs, and other ethnic and sectarian communities.

Unfortunately, ISIS is said to remain in control of the area, although Col. Scrocca said the "daring" operation caught Islamic State fighters by surprise, and they are "still reacting to this maneuver". It would work alongside Arab fighters in the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Ankara says the YPG is the Syrian extension of PKK, a terror organisation according to Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

"We first need to work out details with Turkey", one senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Achieving the military support of key regional partners such as Turkey, Gulf Arab states, Iraq and Jordan would be optimal; however, there are obstacles to getting these partners to participate in an open-ended American-led military mandate after ISIS. Islamic State claimed responsibility for it.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was had been expecting "some further clarity from the United States" on the upcoming Raqqa offensive, and on how the city will be stabilized and governed after the Islamic State is ejected.

The head of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters last week that the assault would begin at the start of April, and that the YPG would be taking part. In contrast, in eastern Syria, the al-Assad government is present in a few scattered, beleaguered military outposts-the most significant being an airbase outside of the city of Deir al-Zour in the lower Euphrates River Valley near the Syrian-Iraqi border.

A more aggressive approach to fighting ISIS seems to be paying off.

"We are at the stage of completely decimating Daesh", al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

McCain said the relationship with Erdogan was particularly important and cited an April 16 referendum on constitutional changes to extend his powers.

In areas being cleared of the Islamic State by the coalition in both Syria and Iraq, the United States plans to install interim local governance during an upcoming "stability phase".

The Secretary of State also said that it is considerably hard for terrorists to get into Syria and Iraq and also to get out of the region to threaten other countries, according to PTI.

He did not elaborate, although one US official said there was not yet agreement among all American agencies on where and how such zones would be set up.

Creating any safe havens could ratchet up USA military involvement in Syria and mark a major departure from former president Barack Obama's opposition. Securing the ground alone would require thousands of troops, former USA officials and experts say.

"Reflecting on the past year or so, we should be encouraged by the significant progress we as a coalition are making", Tillerson said, according to the New York Times.

The NATO meeting had been set for April 5-6, but it was rescheduled after Tillerson decided instead to attend a summit with China.

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