August 28, 2017 – Fort Russ News – Paul Antonopoulos
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Major General Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of the US-led coalition against ISIS, said that the Raqqa Internal Security Force (RISF) are paid by the United States as a vetted opposition force.
“So the Raqqa Internal Security Force are a vetted force, and so are being paid as part of the U.S. process. You know, they’re essentially a Syrian opposition force, and they’re a vetted Syrian opposition force. So that is how they are trained and equipped,” Major General Rupert Jones revealed.
“And clearly it’s for others to comment downstream in terms of how that may play out over time,” he added.
“So the bulk of Raqqa province is already secured by the Raqqa Internal Security Force. So the areas north of the city, west, east of the city, and in the south city, down around Tabqa. And the RISF have started taking over some of the districts of Raqqa,” he said.
“Once the Syrian Democratic Forces are sufficiently confident that security is stable, then they are handing off those outer districts to the RISF so they, of course, can then concentrate their fighting power closer to the front,” he added.
“When the SDF commanders feel that security is good enough, they’ll liaise with the Raqqa Internal Security Force and the area is literally handed off. So it’s really a judgment about is security good enough, is it stable enough, are we confident there aren’t about to be Daesh counterattacks, and then the handoff takes place. And, just so you know, while you talk about the Raqqa Internal Security Force, I mean, they’re still a relatively new organization,” he concluded.
The purpose of RISF is to manage and maintain the security of areas in Raqqa province liberated from ISIS by using the 1,000 local members at their disposal to man checkpoints and conduct security operations.
“They work for the Raqqa Civil Council and, they’re local, they’re Raqqawis. They’re representative of the population and the demographic of Raqqa. About 80 percent of the RISF is Arab, and about 20 percent are Kurds,” coalition spokesperson Colonel Ryan Dillon said in August.
Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies. He has an MA in International Relations and is interested in Great Power Rivalry as well as the International Relations and Political Economy of the Middle East and Latin America.