Swedish SDF member says Raqqa operation slightly delayed after ISIS resistance in Tabqa

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Swedish SDF member Jesper Söder. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

The Islamic State group (ISIS) is resisting the advances of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Tabqa, slightly delaying the operations to start for taking Raqqa city.

The commander of the SDF-linked Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Sipan Hemo said that a US-backed assault to drive ISIS from its de-facto capital Raqqa would begin at the start of April.

However, due to ISIS resistance in the nearby Tabqa city, which is completely isolated and surrounded by the SDF forces, the Raqqa city operation is slightly delayed. “However, eventually the SDF forces will take the city,” Hwemo told Reuters.

Jesper Söder, a Swedish SDF member, told ARA News: “We are advancing in to Tabqa area everyday. But there is really hard resistance from Daesh [ISIS].”

“So, we thought that the operation for the city would start in April, but Daesh have put up a hard fight. I think we should have beaten them in Tabqa already, but they have good positions to defend themselves and even from aircrafts,” Söder said, adding: “A lot of human shields are being used by Daesh [ISIS].”

“Several suicide cars and bombers are daily used by Daesh [ISIS] from Tabqa and surrounding fronts to Raqqa,” he told ARA News.

“Daesh will not leave this city without making sure they have done as much harm to our fighters in SDF as they can,” he said.

The Swedish volunteer also added that it seems the US-led coalition is not providing enough support. “If they did, I believe Tabqa would have been finished by now,” Söder stated. “The support is not enough, according to my sources on the ground here.”

He suggested that the Tabqa operation may take one or two more weeks “after which the SDF could start the battle for the city of Raqqa.”

“The Syrian Democratic Forces have completely isolated the eastside of Raqqa and are currently engaged in a tough battle to seize both the Tabqa Dam and the city of Tabqa, which is to the west of Raqqa,” said the US-led coalition’s land forces commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend.

“They were supported by coalition advisers, U.S. and coalition airpower, Marine heavy artillery, and Army Apache helicopter gunships. Make no mistake about it though, the coalition has taken every precaution to ensure the integrity of Tabqa Dam,” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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