Syria daily says Raqa is 'media' operation
DAMASCUS - The Syrian Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the government, on Monday dismissed a new assault on the Islamic State group's Syrian stronghold of Raqa as a "media" operation.
The daily said the fight, led by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was intended to "focus American public opinion on the 'war on terror' and show the seriousness of the current administration in the fight against the terrorist group Daesh (IS)."
Citing what it described as a "Western diplomatic source in Paris," the newspaper said the SDF lacked the capacity to fight IS "even if they were backed by Washington and Paris with all their power."
The daily said the operation's "sudden announcement" was intended to "cover up the inability of the US to make quick and qualitative progress in cooperation with the Iraqi army in Mosul," citing the same source.
It also said the operation was timed to coincide with the US presidential elections, which take place Tuesday, especially "with the scandals surrounding the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton."
The SDF is a key ally of the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, where it does not coordinate its strikes with the government in Damascus.
President Bashar al-Assad's government accuses the US-led coalition of failing to tackle IS in Syria, and alleges that Washington and other supporters of rebel groups fuel "terrorism" in the country.