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ISIS strategy shift at Pentagon

by Jeremy Bender

The Pentagon is looking to significantly change up its anti-ISIS strategy in Iraq and Syria in an attempt to regain momentum against the extremist group.

The potential shift in strategy comes at the request of the White House as the Obama administration has reportedly become increasingly concerned that the battle against ISIS, aka ISIL or the Islamic State, has reached a stalemate.

The new strategy, unveiled by Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday at a Senate Armed Services Committee, will be more militarily aggressive.

"The changes we're pursuing can be described by what I call the 'three R's' — Raqqa, Ramadi and Raids," Carter said during his testimony, highlighting the new bold strategy that the Pentagon is hoping to implement against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

The first "R" is aimed at retaking Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS, away from the control of the militants. The Hill reports that Carter intends to help various Syrian rebel and Kurdish groups take the city through a combination of airstrikes and train-and-equip programs.

"While the old approach was to train and equip completely new forces outside of Syria before sending them into the fight, the new approach is to work with vetted leaders of groups that are already fighting ISIL, and provide equipment and some training to them and support their operations with airpower," Carter said.

The Washington Post reports that the White House is weighing sending a number of US advisers to Syria for the first time to help coordinate action against ISIS.

Additionally, special-operations teams would work alongside Kurdish and vetted Syrian Arab groups in the northeast region of Syria. Those operations would likely help coordinate and implement action in Raqqa.

The second "R" is aimed at retaking Ramadi, Iraq. A combination of Iraqi Security Forces, Shiite militias, and Sunni tribesmen have been engaged in trying to take back the city since it fell to the militants in May.

Carter said the US is willing to "continue providing more enabling capabilities and fire support" to Iraqi partners on the ground, on the condition that Baghdad supplies arms and provides rights to the Sunni tribes involved in anti-ISIS operations.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/isis-strategy-shift-pentagon-2015-10

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