- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2015

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Monday that an uptick in airstrikes in Syria over the weekend is the result of coalition air power supporting recent successes by Kurdish forces on the ground.

On Sunday, 18 coalition airstrikes hit Raqqah, Syria, destroying three Islamic State vehicles and 16 bridges, according to a Defense Department statement. Coalition aircraft have conducted only a couple of strikes a day over recent weeks in the declared capital of the caliphate.

Mr. Carter said lasting defeat of the Islamic State will require forces on the ground that the U.S. can support.

Recent success by Kurdish forces in Syria have allowed the U.S. to take more strikes that limit the movement of terrorist fighters, he said.

“The opportunity to do that effectively is provided in the case of the last few days by the effective action on the ground of Kurdish forces, which gives us the opportunity to support them tactically,” Mr. Carter told reporters during a joint briefing with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drain at the Pentagon.

Mr. Le Drain affirmed France’s commitment to the fight against the Islamic State, saying that the group has proven it can now succeed at both traditional warfare and urban tactics.

“It is no longer a terrorist group. It has become a terrorist army,” he said through a translator.

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