image Brett McGurk, U.S. envoy to the coalition against Islamic State, walks in the town of Tabqa, Syria June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTS192SD

US prepares for the day after the fall of Raqqa

The US special envoy to the American-led coalition against the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, visited northern Syria for meetings with the local militia leaders that are planning to run the city of Raqqa, after the US-backed forces will capture the city, which served as the de-facto capital of the Islamic State in Syria, from the extreme Muslim group. Some 150 members of a newly instated police force, which underwent a US-backed training program, celebrated their graduation near the city of Raqqa this month, as those forces are expected to be deployed in and around the embattled city, once the Islamic State is routed out of it. “The duty of the forces in the near future is to enter the city of Raqqa and ensure the security of the city. We are currently training them to use light weaponry, how to search for and dismantle explosives. Also, how to deal with citizens and help them return to the city of Raqqa soon, God willing. Here we are both Kurds and Arabs, there is no difference between us. Everyone is ready to enter the city of Raqqa as soon as it is liberated.” Haval Wissam a Trainer at Police Academy said.

“[We want] to reinstate security and stability for our people in the city of Raqqa after its liberation and after they are rid of the terror of Daesh (Islamic State). God willing, we will protect public spaces, and will ensure safety for our family members. We will help them forget the pain they have suffered over three years, [pain] of displacement, slaughter and murder,” Graduate of Police Academy Faisal Mohammed said.

The city of about 200,000 has been the base of operations for Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on civilians across the globe. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, made up predominantly of Kurdish fighters, has seized territory to the north, east and west of Raqqa. The assault on Raqqa is likely to be a defining moment in the US-led war on the Islamic State.