Backed Kurds Announce Start of Raqqa Invasion

A USA -backed Syrian force said Tuesday it has begun an offensive to capture the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group, after months of clearing operations.

The offensive has also seen the SDF a multi-ethnic group but dominated by the Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units), receive support from USA military advisers and weapons deliveries.

Seized by the jihadists in early 2014, Raqa became notorious as a hub for IS's operations in Syria, Iraq and beyond. The city has been the scene of some of IS' worst atrocities, including gruesome executions, public displays of bodies and the trafficking of women.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the fight against Islamic State, said in a statement Tuesday that the battle for Raqqa is expected to be long and challenging, but necessary to dismantle the militants' so-called caliphate. After months sealing off access routes to the city from the east, north and west, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday entered city limits for the first time.

The Raqqa campaign commander Rojda Felat said an assault had begun on the al-Mushleb district at the city's south-eastern outskirts, confirming an earlier report by the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday Ankara will retaliate immediately if the operation by US-backed forces to capture Raqqa presents a threat to Turkey.

The strike on the school hosting displaced people occurred in the eastern Mashlab district, targeted since this morning by an offensive of Kurdish-Syrian militias supported by the US. The coalition appears keen to expel IS from its last major urban bastions before the "caliphate" turns three years old later this month.

Elsewhere in Syria, at least 11 people were killed and 16 others wounded in government air raids on the southern Deraa province, the Observatory said.

"We all saw the heinous attack in Manchester, England", Townsend said, referring to the terror attack late last month at an Ariana Grande concert, which ISIS has claimed credit for. "ISIS threatens all of our nations, not just Iraq and Syria, but in our own homelands as well".

The SDF launched its operation to take Raqqa - dubbed Wrath of the Euphrates - in November.

"On Tuesday, SDF spokesman Talal Sello announces a new phase in" the great battle to liberate the city of Raqa, the so-called capital of terrorism and terrorists".

The US-led coalition has said 3,000 to 4,000 IS fighters are thought to be holed up in Raqqa city, where they have erected defenses against the anticipated assault.

Sello urged civilians inside the city to keep away from IS positions and from the frontlines.

The SDF has said it will hand control of Raqqa to a civilian council from the city after its capture, echoing the pattern in other areas retaken by the SDF. At this point, however, ISIS still has avenues leading out of the city, primarily toward the city of Palmyra.

An estimated 230,000 civilians are living in Raqqa, according to the UN. Thousands have managed to flee to areas held by the SDF. Yesterday, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein accused IS of murdering dozens of civilians to prevent them from fleeing Mosul last week. The coalition says it tries hard to avoid civilian casualties and investigates any that are reported.

The Syrian war began in March 2011 with widespread protests against the regime, but it has since morphed into a multi-front war that has left over 400,000 people dead.

Related:

  • Irving saves his best for when Cavs face Finals elimination

    Irving saves his best for when Cavs face Finals elimination

    We got to take this game and do it with efficiency, competitive defense and alertness and awareness for 48 minutes. Cleveland repeatedly attacked Curry in pick and roll situations, and he did little to discourage those attacks.
    How to Identify Dog Flu and Keep Your Pets Safe

    How to Identify Dog Flu and Keep Your Pets Safe

    Stevens said it's believed that the flu strain now in North Carolina was spread from an outbreak at a dog show in Florida . But most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks and the fatality rate is less than 10 percent, according to Texas A&M research .
    National Spelling Bee gets down to final 4

    National Spelling Bee gets down to final 4

    Ananya was on the stage with confetti falling all around her as her parents and brother ran to embrace her in celebration. Last year, Nihar Janga of Texas and Jairam Hathwar of NY jointly won the title, as per a CNN report.
  • What Got Mark Hamill to Return to the Star Wars Galaxy?

    What Got Mark Hamill to Return to the Star Wars Galaxy?

    While Luke will probably have a key role to play in the new movies, it’s certain the new actors will dominate the storyline. He felt he needed to know what all those years have done to Luke even if the material doesn’t get told in the actual movie.

    Warriors' Green will be on the court for this Finals Game 5

    They've been through everything, including this exact scenario they find themselves in now, and come out the other end better off. No more did he worry about bringing the ball up, (then) Dellavadova did. "You remember what can be, what can happen".
    Global Resource Coin

    Global Resource Coin

    In addition, from the year 2018 GRC’s cryptocurrency rate is expected to grow due to its social usefulness and relevance. In order to do this, you need to have a considerable amount of money, a special financial education and a special license.
  • Bachelor party in Kiev — unforgettable impressions are guaranteed

    Bachelor party in Kiev — unforgettable impressions are guaranteed

    Spectacular dancers will complement the spectacular dance of any composition, leaving an unforgettable impression in your memory. A special chic to the club is given by colorful and incendiary performances, over which a professional choreographer works.
    Apple Takes On Distracted Driving With New Feature

    Apple Takes On Distracted Driving With New Feature

    And on any given day, around 660,000 people are on their cellphones or other electronic devices while driving. At WWDC, Apple upgraded their iMac lineup starting with what the company calls the "best Mac display ever".
    Wise casino advices

    Wise casino advices

    Tips casino players online You need to understand the difference between traditional casinos and online casinos. Still, the main goal, anyway, is to get a prize and the opportunity to become rich without putting an effort.
  • Sessions' plans to testify surprised Senate intelligence panel members

    Richard Shelby, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. Trump's lawyer said that the president has "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr.
    True Love Exists!

    True Love Exists!

    Moreover, for the first time, Ivy and David even did not see each other, due to the fact that their communication was online. It should be noticed that these two people began relations just as friends, as they lived in different countries.
    The first capital of casinos

    The first capital of casinos

    The reputation of Macao as the place of the famous casinos, brothels and clans triads selling opium was born in the 18th century. And it lasted until the 60s of the 20th century, while a powerful businessman Stanley Ho became interested in the region.

Comments