Backed Kurdish forces break into ISIL-held Raqqa
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 07, 2017,
Jun 07, 2017, 10:15
Daesh is an acronym for the Arab name of ISIS.
Islamic State captured Raqqa from rebel groups in 2014.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Tuesday they were launching a new phase in their assault on the Daesh (the so-called IS) group's bastion Raqqa, after advancing to the city's outskirts. The US-led coalition attacked the compound, which housed dozens of armed men with tanks and artillery.
Defeating ISIL in Raqa would "deliver a decisive blow to the idea of ISIS as a physical caliphate", said coalition commander Lieutenant General Steve Townsend. "ISIL threatens all our nations, not just Iraq and Syria, but in our homelands as well".
Security officials in the West have warned of increased threat of attacks such as last month's Manchester suicide bombing and Saturday's attack in London as Islamic State loses ground in Syria and Iraq.
In April, the Manbij Military Council on sent 200 fighters to support the Syrian Democratic Forces in the Raqqa operation with heavy weapons and ammunition, local sources said. However, it has lost much of its territory it initially claimed over the years due to campaigns led by several Syrian and Iraqi forces. However Rahman pointed out the same route was being used by fleeing IS fighters.
The Observatory said the SDF had captured some buildings in the al-Mushleb area and had also attacked a military barracks, Division 17, on the northern outskirts of Raqqa. "They are fighting street battles inside Raqqa now, and we have experience in urban warfare", she said.
The U.S. -SDF partnership has complicated relations with Turkey, which views the group's Kurdish component as an extension of a terror group operating inside its own borders.
The SDF includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia. Thousands have managed to flee to areas held by the SDF.
The U.N. human rights office has raised concerns about increasing reports of civilian deaths as air strikes escalate. An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under ISIL rule in Raqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of the country, Agence France-Presse reported said. Islamic State terrorists have also reportedly been preventing civilians from leaving, it said.
On Tuesday, airstrikes also by US -led coalition killed 12 people, including women and children, state news agency SANA reported. On June 6, SDF spokesman Talal Sello made the long-awaited announcement that the battle for Raqqa itself had begun.
Since then, Turkey has carried out unilateral counterterrorism operations, flushing out Islamic State fighters from a string of northern Syrian cities.
Sello urged civilians inside the city to keep away from IS positions and from the frontlines.
A US-led coalition air strike killed 21 civilians on Monday as they tried to escape Raqqa, SOHR said.
"They have had three years to establish their defenses there". "With the global coalition's warplanes and the state-of-the-art weapons they provided to us, we will seize Raqqa from Daesh" The coalition air strikes on Raqqa have taken a toll on civilians.
It said the SDF stormed the Mashlab, Raqqa's first eastern neighborhood, hours after announcing the operation's commencement.
"Raqqa will be an important step towards annihilating ISIS, but this will not be the end of the terrorist organization ISIS in Syria", he said, adding that the terrorists still hold quite a bit of territory downriver that needs to be cleared once Raqqa has been retaken.