Raqqa, Syria – US-led troops have left the Syrian towns of Raqqa, Tabqa, as well as the Lafarge cement factory as part of Washington’s decision to withdraw troops from northeast Syria, according to a statement by the Pentagon, while Washington carried out an air raid, allegedly to destroy an ammunition cache and military equipment that left behind.
Coalition Spokesman Colonel Myles B. Caggins said on Twitter on Wednesday “Coalition forces continue a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria”, adding that “On October 16, we vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, Raqqa, and Tabqa”.
Hours earlier, the Syrian government forces had entered Raqqa under cover from the air. It is reported that army troops were enthusiastically welcomed by the local population. Also, a major US base in northern Syria was destroyed by an airstrike after the troops pulled out, likely to prevent more embarrassing videos of the abandoned facility once it is reclaimed by Syrian government troops.
US officials confirmed the strike on Wednesday evening, saying it was previously planned and intended “to prevent the coalition operation center from being utilized by outside forces”. Caggins stated that the strike involved two F-15E fighter jets from the US-led coalition, which fired on the Lafarge Cement Factory after all coalition forces had left the facility.
As US troops pulled back and Turkey’s Army and Ankara-backed militants poured into Syria, the Kurds struck an agreement with the Syrian government, whose troops are now deploying to block further Turkish advances. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had declared that up to 1,000 American troops would be withdrawn from northern Syria because of the increasing danger posed by the fighting.
The Kurds in Syria previously enjoyed the protection of the US allegedly in a campaign against terrorist groups. The protection, however, was de facto withdrawn days ago by President Donald Trump, who pulled out American troops that had previously been embedded with the militias. In recent days, several hundred US troops have fled northeast Syria into Iraq.
The city of Raqqa was captured by ISIS in 2014 as the terror group’s de facto capital. In mid-October 2017, following a lengthy battle that saw massive destruction to the city, Kurdish militias declared the liberation of Raqqa from Takfiri militants to be complete. Damascus has repeatedly reiterated that any foreign troops in Syria are regarded as an occupying force and the Syrian government has the right to take all the needed measures to confront it.
In recent years, several reports revealed Takfiri terrorist groups are being provided with advanced weapons and huge amounts of cash by the former and current US administration in Syria for the now-disappeared “Assad Must Go” aim. The government of President Bashar al-Assad has for several times stressed that “every inch” of the Syrian territory will be liberated from terrorists.