KOBANE – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Tuesday afternoon launched an operation to capture the countryside of Raqqa from the Islamic State (ISIS) group, military sources told ARA News.
The SDF has apparently delayed retaking the city of Raqqa–the de-facto capital of ISIS–and focused on first capturing the countryside of Raqqa that will serve as a launching pad for more operations in the future.
Ismet Sheikh, Kobane’s Defence Minister, confirmed the launch of the operation in an exclusive interview with ARA News.
“Cleansing these territories from ISIS starts now from the north of Raqqa. As we promised all our martyrs and all our people to eliminate ISIS wherever they are, no matter if its Manbij, Jarabulus, Raqqa or any other area,” he said.
The Kurdish official confirmed the operation maybe be a bit too soon. “We rely on the regional situation and the situation on the ground. No one helps us or support us, maybe they assist the fight against ISIS because it’s a terrorist organization,” he told ARA News.
“But as for Kobani [Kobane], we are surrounded [the borders are closed] and we don’t have any kind of way to get supplies, or even milk for our children. Depending on our situation we started the operation,” he added.
The General Commander of the SDF forces released a press statement saying that the campaign also has the aim to end the ISIS-attacks on the Kurds in Kobane and Hasakah.
“We began the operation to liberate northern Raqqa with the participation of all the Syrian democratic forces and the support of the international coalition aircraft. The goal of the campaign is to liberate the people of this region from the injustices of the ISIS mercenaries. Through this campaign, we will liberate the north of Raqqa,” said Abu Fayyad, an Arab SDF leader from Tal Abyad.
“This operation is important in that it will continue to apply direct pressure on ISIS inside of the city of Raqqa. However, the importance of the current campaign should not be overstated. There is still some time left to go before the civil and military structures to replace ISIS in the city of Raqqa have been built up by the Coalition through the SDF,” Nicholas Heras, a Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security told ARA News.
The US-led coalition said on Monday that the coalition continued to attack ISIS militants in Syria, carrying out seven strikes using fighter jets and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIS destroying a military garrison and fighting positions.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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