US, allies may increase strikes, surveillance in Raqqa

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WASHINGTON (AP) The top U.S. commander in Iraq said the coalition may increase airstrikes and overhead surveillance support for the fight to retake Raqqa, Syria, from the Islamic State group now that the militants have been largely defeated in Mosul, Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend told Pentagon reporters on Tuesday, July 11, he doesn’t see a significant expansion of the U.S. and coalition effort in Raqqa. But he said the fight there was now the priority.

Townsend said Iraqi forces still need time to oust any remaining IS fighters from Mosul. He said the Iraqi troops would probably then take a break to reset and rest before launching their fight against IS in Tal Afar and other remaining insurgent strongholds in western Iraq.

Iraqi leaders declared victory over IS in Mosul on Monday.

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