U.S., Allies May Increase Strikes, Surveillance in Raqqa

Smoke rises from the al-Mishlab district at Raqqa’s southeastern outskirts, Syria, in June. (Reuters/Rodi Said/File)

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

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend tells Pentagon reporters that he doesn’t see a significant expansion of the U.S. and coalition effort in Raqqa. But he says the fight there is now the priority.

Townsend says that Iraqi forces still need time to oust any remaining IS fighters from Mosul. He says the Iraqi troops will 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.