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"Western diplomats say the post-capture plan is for
the SDF to hand over the administration of Raqqa to a local civilian
council friendly to the Syrian regime. That council could eventually
transfer control of the city back to the regime, these diplomats said."

Kurd-Led Force Homes In on ISIS Bastion With Assent of U.S. and Syria Alike

After taking crucial nearby dam, SDF is poised to capture Raqqa,
Islamic State’s Syrian centerpiece

https://www.wsj.com/articles/kurd-led-force-homes-in-on-isis-bastion-with-assent-of-u-s-and-syria-alike-1494522632

BEIRUT—A Kurdish-led military force backed by Washington and now
approved by Damascus is closing in on Islamic State’s stronghold of
Raqqa after taking the strategic Tabqa dam nearby.

....

As the Kurdish-led fighters supported by U.S. Special Operations
Forces on the ground inch closer to Raqqa, the question of who will
hold the city the day after it falls is becoming more urgent. Turkey,
a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and its Syrian
Arab rebel allies oppose the rival Kurds leading the battle and fear
they will try to hold onto the majority-Arab city after it is
captured.

Arab rebels particularly distrust the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia
that dominates the SDF, because it has used the U.S.-backed fight
against Islamic State to take over a large swath of territory across
northern Syria—including predominantly Arab cities and towns—with the
expressed goal of carving out a semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The
rebels and opposition activists have long accused the YPG of colluding
with the Syrian regime for its own benefit.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear he opposes the expensive
nation-building missions that have historically accompanied U.S.
counterterrorism operations to support local governments and prevent
insurgents from returning.

For these reasons, Western diplomats say the post-capture plan is for
the SDF to hand over the administration of Raqqa to a local civilian
council friendly to the Syrian regime. That council could eventually
transfer control of the city back to the regime, these diplomats said.

The formation of the local civilian council for Raqqa, composed of
both Kurds and Arabs, was announced last month. On Thursday, Russia’s
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow supports the
formation of local councils to administer territory taken from Islamic
State but said they must not circumvent the Syrian government’s
authority, in comments carried by Interfax news agency.

“The U.S. military will be going in [to Raqqa] and trying to figure
out who the tribal leaders are,” said an American official involved in
the anti-Islamic State campaign. “The regime knows these details. They
have a natural home-field advantage and have a way of slowly getting
back in. We won’t be in Raqqa in 2020, but the regime will be there.”

Western officials say the SDF operation that unfolded in the northern
Syrian city of Manbij last year could serve as a blueprint for Raqqa’s
eventual handover to Damascus. The Kurdish-led force took Manbij from
Islamic State in August and handed over some surrounding towns to the
Syrian and allied Russian armies in March.

......

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