Syrian Democratic Forces expel ISIS from six villages after launching second phase of Raqqa campaign

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Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in western Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Raqqa After launching the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation against ISIS, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday reported new gains in the fight for Raqqa–de facto capital of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The SDF seized control of several villages in western Raqqa in an area measuring approximately 8 square kilometers.

The Kurdish-Arab alliance of the SDF on Sunday captured six villages after clashes with ISIS militants.

“The liberated villages include Merwaniya, Krajah, Hamer Saghir, Hamer Kabir, Qerefdan and Draniya,” a spokesman for the SDF told ARA News at the battlefront of western Raqqa.

According to SDF’s leaders the second phase of the operation is aimed to liberate the western countryside of Raqqa and tighten the siege on the ISIS-held city. Additional to the previous SDF factions, some 1500 new Arab fighters have joined the campaign.

“The time has come to liberate Raqqa and its people from ISIS terrorism. We will enter Raqqa city with help from our Kurdish brothers and the Arab factions of the SDF,” Hussein al-Awak, chief of the SDF Relation’s Office, told ARA News.

Al-Awak confirmed to ARA News that the US-led coalition has provided them with some advanced weapons in support of the Raqqa campaign.

“We have received advanced weapons from the US-led coalition, beside preparing strategic operations against ISIS headquarters,” the SDF official said. “After completing the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath, we’ll move to the final stage of this operation to eliminate ISIS in Raqqa completely.”

During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, SDF soldiers captured an area measuring approximately 560 km2, containing dozens of towns, villages and farms. Military sources told ARA News that more than 185 ISIS jihadists have been killed since November 6. The operation’s long-term objective is the isolation and elimination of the Islamic State in Raqqa.

According to local sources, the Arab tribes started forming a local council to run the city and its countryside following ISIS expulsion. Raqqa’s tribal leaders have also called on the people to support the Syrian Democratic Forces in the liberation campaign.

Sheikh Oubaid Khalil al-Khalaf, leader of the Abu al-Assaf Tribes, told ARA News: “As local Arab tribes we have a duty towards our brothers inside Raqqa. We have joined the Syrian Democratic Forces in this major operation. We will liberate the city from ISIS.”

“Raqqa will be run by its own people after the liberation from ISIS terrorism,” al-Khalaf said. “The work on establishing a local civilian council has started with the launch of this phase of the battle for Raqqa.”

The Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday announced the begin of the second phase of Euphrates Wrath Operation to combat Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants in their de facto capital Raqqa.

Cihan Shekh Ehmed, spokesperson of the SDF-led Euphrates Wrath Operation, told a press conference: “The Syrian Democratic Forces decided to launch the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation. This stage is aimed at liberating the western countryside of Raqqa from ISIS, beside completing the isolation of Raqqa City.”

“The operation will continue until all goals are accomplished,” she said.

“We also announce that the Euphrates Wrath Operation has been expanding with new factions joining the SDF ranks to eliminate ISIS in Raqqa,” Cihan said. “More than 1500 Arab fighters have joined the Syrian Democratic Forces in battle for Raqqa, and they’ve been equipped by the US-led coalition.”

“We want to stress that the coordination between the SDF and the Western Coalition has reached a high level,” she said, adding: “This coordination and cooperation will ensure a successful second phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation.”

The Kurdish official also stressed that after expelling ISIS from Raqqa, the city will be run by a local civilian council. “Once liberated, the city of Raqqa will be run by its own people, by a civilian council established locally and representatives elected by the people of Raqqa,” she said.

Reporting by: Heysem Heci | Source: ARA News

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