Syrian Democratic Forces report first gains in Raqqa operation, capture 11 villages

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Members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) seen in the northern countryside of Raqqa after launching a new anti-ISIS campaign to liberate Raqqa governorate. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Raqqa – Since the launch of the Euphrates Wrath Operation on Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured 11 villages in an area measuring approximately 15 km². The campaign’s ultimate goal is the isolation and capture of Raqqa city.

SDF soldiers on Monday also besieged Haysha town, about 40 km north of Raqqa city. Dozens of Islamic State (ISIS) militants have reportedly been killed in a protracted bombardment.

The SDF General Command told ARA News that ISIS has retreated from major parts of Raqqa’s northern countryside. Rather than trying to stand their ground, the extremist group is now relying on mines, car bombs and suicide squads. The SDF reportedly destroyed six car bombs on Monday, before they could reach their targets.

The multi-ethnic alliance has reminded civilians to be cautious as ISIS jihadists have a long history of using human shields. “We also call on our people in Raqqa to stay away from ISIS headquarters, which will be [targeted by] the SDF and the coalition. We appeal to the civilians to head to secure locations and to support our operation,” the SDF said.

The Islamic State’s current strategy appears to be aimed at impeding the SDF’s progress towards the city of Raqqa, through mass casualty attacks and guerrilla-style raids. Raqqa is a de facto capital of the self-declared Caliphate.

Noteworthy SDF factions participating in the Euphrates Wrath Operation include Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), Syriac Military Council, Raqqa Revolutionaries Battalion and Tel Abyad Revolutionary Brigade. These ground forces are being bolstered by the US-led coalition, which is providing air support and advice from US military experts.

The SDF established on Sunday a new operations room to harmonize the allied forces participating in the battle for Raqqa. “On November 5, the SDF established a new operations room known as the Euphrates Wrath to enhance coordination between the various military factions participating in the battle,” the SDF said in a statement.

“This operation will be proceeded strictly till its goal is met,  isolating the capital of world terror, then bringing it down,” the SDF continued “We will be victorious in this decisive battle like we were in Kobane, Tel Abyad, al-Hasakah, al-Hawl, al-Shaddadi and Manbij.”

Reporting by: Ahmed Shiwesh and Heysem Haci | Source: ARA News

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