Ret. Gen. Allen: Population in liberated Syrian town still needs protecting

Watch an excerpt of retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen’s PBS NewsHour interview on efforts to topple the Islamic State group.

The fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq will be a tough slog, but forces have made some progress, including cutting off a key supply route to the militants’ self-proclaimed capital Raqqa in Syria, said retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the U.S. envoy to the coalition combatting the Islamic State group.

“It’s a long-term effort that’s been underway by some of the resistance elements in that region to ultimately cut off a border crossing called Tal Abyad,” Allen told PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff on Tuesday.

After freeing the Syrian city of Kobani earlier this year, Kurdish and other forces to the east moved together and were successful in pushing out the militants from Tal Abyad on Tuesday, he explained.

“The momentum is going on the part of the coalition and Iraqis,” Allen said. He cited another recent liberation of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, saying families have been returning this week.

But along with the retaking of towns and recovery of police forces, the returning populations need to be protected and supported, he said. So the international coalition and the United Nations have created a “stabilization fund” to pay the returning residents.

“One thing is very important, I think, as these forces continue to operate, we’re going to continue to make the point with them that they have to protect the population that they’re liberating,” he added. “It’s essential really to the stabilization of the area.”

See the full interview that aired on Tuesday’s broadcast: