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Russia spurns French claim Raqqa ‘surrounded’

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Author: AFPSun, 2017-03-26ID: 1490476571944232100MOSCOW: Russia’s Army on Saturday dismissed a French claim that Raqqa, Daesh’s stronghold in Syria, was surrounded by troops who were poised to storm it, saying it had “no relation to reality.”Russia’s curt dismissal came a day after French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the terror group’s de facto capital was “surrounded” and that the battle to prise it from Daesh control “will begin in the coming days.” “The optimism of the French defense minister, who said the encirclement of Raqqa was complete… has no relation to reality or the situation on the ground,” military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.“It is clear to any military specialist that the liberation of Raqqa will not be a walk in the park for the international coalition,” he said.The duration of the operation and the measure of its success would depend on the ability of the players to “coordinate their action with all the forces fighting international terrorism in Syria,” he said.Konashenkov also drew a parallel with the US-backed ground offensive targeting Mosul, the terrorists’ other stronghold in Iraq: “Even the most optimistic no longer believe Mosul will be completely liberated from IS this year.”The US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance spearheading the fight in Syria, which has been working for months to encircle Raqqa, also expressed caution about how soon the battle would begin. Speaking to AFP on Friday, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said there was still work to do.“The operation to besiege Raqqa will take several weeks and that will then lead to the official launch of the operation,” Talal Sello said.And a European diplomat, who did not want to be named, said the situation surrounding the Raqqa offensive remained “complex.”
Main category: Middle-East

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