An offensive against ISIS in Syria to retake Raqqa is set to begin within weeks, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told NBC News in an exclusive interview in Paris where he has been meeting with his counterparts from other Western countries.
Raqqa is the terrorist organization's de facto capital and Carter said the plan is part of a larger offensive. He added, "It's been long a part of our plan that the Mosul operation would kick off when it did. This was a plan that goes back many months now and that Raqqa would follow soon behind."
When asked whether U.S. special forces or other troops would be sent inside Mosul or Raqqa to gather intelligence or hunt "high-value combatants," Carter replied: "They are not near [Mosul] at this time ... Our forces do accompany .... the Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga. So they will get nearer to the city as those forces get nearer to the city ... We are not going to be part of the occupation or hold forces."
It's unclear what military force would lead the attack on Raqqa nor what role, if any, US forces would play in the planned attack.