US-led coalition trains Raqqa Internal Forces to run post-ISIS city

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Kurdish YPG fighters accompany US troops north Syria. File photo

ARA News

Fifty members of the Raqqa Internal Security Forces (RISF) are currently in training by the US-led coalition, a coalition spokesperson confirmed on Saturday.

“The Coalition began training the first class of the RISF on May 17. This is a vetted local Syrian Arab Coalition force selected to serve as a holding force to guard liberated areas in Raqqa Province against ISIS attack,” the official said.

“This is the initial class, from which a training cadre will be developed to continue training RISF members, with assistance from U.S. trainers.  They will be trained in security operations, and the Law of Armed Conflict,” he said.

Furthermore, 270 Arabs from Raqqa recently finished their training and joined the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to fight in Raqqa.

But until now the Raqqa Internal Security Forces receive the training for internal policing.

“The fifty members of the Raqqa Internal Security Forces that are currently in training are the first to receive the training,” the coalition spokesperson said.

“The Coalition wants a competent, professional security force to have authority in Raqqa from Day 1 after ISIS,” Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News.

“Coalition training not only can make these forces effective in providing physical security, but to also act professionally and with respect for the local population,” he said.

“This move shows that the US-led Coalition wants to do Raqqa right, and to provide a secure environment for the local people that will preempt any need for an alternate authority to administer the security of the city,” he added.

On Friday, additional hundreds of Kurdish security police forces arrived in the town of Ayn Issa from the Hasakah province to back up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that will launch an operation to take Raqqa city in June since there are not enough police forces to police the liberated cities. On Saturday, they were deployed to the areas of Al Samen, Areyme, and the Tishreen dam to back up SDF operations.

The US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Friday said that the main focus of the US-led coalition is stabilization and not nation-building, which includes setting up local police forces.

“Stabilization is not nation-building.  We’re not attempting to dictate political outcomes nor is it long-term reconstruction where projects are chosen by outsiders often with no connection to the local community costing and often wasting billions of dollars,” he said. “Instead, stabilization is a low-cost, sustainable, citizen-driven effort to identify the key projects that are essential to returning people to their homes such as water pumps, electricity nodes, grain silos, and local security structures, local police,” he said.

“What will it look like when we say that we’ve got success?”  I think what we’ll see is the local security forces, police, that sort of organization can handle it.  In other words, we drive them down to a point where the locals can handle that and it’s no longer a trans-regional, transnational threat,” he said.

“So you — you’ve got to drive them down to a point that police can handle it.  Police can’t handle a force that’s driving tanks and using artillery, or has thousands of fighters in mobile vehicles that allow them to range far and wide,” he said. “So we’ve got to drive them down to a point that police elements can handle it,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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