Syrian Democratic Forces launch new anti-ISIS operation in eastern Raqqa

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

ARA News

Raqqa – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday announced the launch of the third phase of Euphrates Wrath Operation in Raqqa, a campaign aimed at isolating the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group in its de facto capital.

Cihan Shekh Ehmed, the SDF’s official Spokesperson for the Euphrates Wrath Operation, said in a press conference that the new phase will be focused on securing the eastern countryside of Raqqa.

“As the [SDF-led] military operations [against ISIS] continue in western Raqqa, today we announce the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation in eastern Raqqa,” she said.

“The third phase is aimed at liberating the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate from ISIS, and save our people there from ISIS terrorism,” Cihan said. “The brutality of this terrorist group increases as we close in on its de facto capital.”

The SDF spokeswoman pointed out that the people of Raqqa have fully supported the SDF-led Euphrates Wrath Operation. “All social components in Raqqa have shown support to the Syrian Democratic Forces in the operation. The local tribal leaders have supported the SDF throughout this operation.”

She also stressed the key role of the international coalition, led by the United States, in the operation.

“Also, the US-led coalition has played a key role in our progress in Raqqa through providing an air cover to our troops on the ground, beside the logistical support and training,” Cihan said.

“This phase of the campaign is aimed at completing the isolation of the ISIS-held Raqqa city. Various factions are participating in this phase of the Euphrates Wrath, beside a large number of young fighters from the recently liberated areas, who volunteered to join the SDF in the fight for Raqqa,” the SDF official said. “The SDF, in cooperation with the US-led coalition, have trained the new recruits and equipped them to join the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation against ISIS.”

This comes amid continued military operations by the Kurdish-led SDF troops against ISIS in the vicinity of Raqqa.

The SDF announced that it has captured over 2500 km2 in western Raqqa Governorate as part of the second phase of the US-backed Euphrates Wrath Operation, launched on 10 December. The polyethnic alliance also confirmed that they had cleared 196 villages and dozens of farms.

During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, which began on November 6, the SDF liberated roughly 560 km² in northern Raqqa. “Thus, since the beginning of the battle for Raqqa, 3200 square kilometers have been cleared, including 236 villages.”

The SDF launched the second phase of the Operation Euphrates Wrath with the objective of securing Raqqa’s western countryside and Tabqa Dam, which bridges the Euphrates River. The first phase of the operation focused on securing the banks of the Balikh River.

The SDF confirmed the that they had eliminated 620 ISIS militants during the course of the campaign, captured 18 others and destroyed “over 40 car bombs.” In addition, SDF troops seized “a great deal of ammunition and weapons,” as well as “a number of ISIS vehicles.”

The long-term objective of Euphrates Wrath remains the elimination of the Islamic State in its de facto capital –Raqqa city.

Reporting by: Heysem Haci | Source: ARA News 

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