raqqa map syria

Syria: SDF (Kurdish+ Arab Alliance) rebels capture parts of ISIS de facto capital Raqqa

// *Syrie: Les combats s’intensifient aux portes de la vieille ville de Raqqa

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured several strategic neighbourhoods just outside of ISIL’s de facto capital in Raqqa province, the group said in a press release. The SDF made gains outside Raqqa city, in the last few days, the SDF has succeeded in carrying out attacks to the north, east, and west., where ISIL (or ISIS) fighters are currently surrounded by the Kurdish forces.

Français: Les Forces démocratiques syriennes (FDS), une milice kurdo-arabe soutenue par les USA continue à progresser dans la ville de Raqqa, le siège de Daech en Syrie.Les Forces démocratiques syriennes (SDF), soutenues par les États-Unis, ont annoncé s’être rapprochées de l’enceinte de la vieille ville de Raqqa, bastion de Daech en Syrie, relate l’agence Reuters. Auparavant, cette force militaire composée de Kurdes et d’Arabes avait déjà déclaré avoir libéré de Daech le premier des quartiers ouest de Raqqa.

ISIL captured Raqqa from rebel groups in 2014 and have since used it as their home base.Backed by US-led coalition air strikes, the SDF began a major offensive last week to seize the city Al-Jazeera reports.

Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, an activist group in Raqqa, said coalition air strikes have destroyed several buildings, including schools and mosques, in the past week.Citing information from a local activist, Al Jazeera reports that ISIS is expected to retreat or surrender in the coming days.

The US-led coalition said 3,000 to 4,000 ISIL fighters are thought to be holed up in Raqqa city, in which about 160,000 civilians remain, according to the UN.Up to 400,000 civilians are estimated to remain in Raqqa governorate, and 160,000-200,000 in the city of Raqqa, which ISIS captured in January 2014. Human Rights Watch staff last visited the city in April 2013.

For Human Rights Watch,the United States-led coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and other local armed groups should make protecting civilians and respect for human rights a priority in the offensive to retake Raqqa from ISIS. These key human rights priorities for anti-ISIS forces should include: taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties and investigating alleged unlawful strikes; ensuring that no child soldiers participate in the military operation; respecting detainee rights; providing safe passage to fleeing civilians and providing sufficient support to displaced people; and increasing efforts to survey and clear landmines and explosive remnants of war.

There are very serious concerns regarding the local population of Raqqa. These Syrian people have been suffering under the brutal repression of Daesh as well as the continuous aerial bombardment over the past three years, either by the international coalition, the Russians, or the Assad regime.

Taking control of the industrial district means that the real battle will begin and the fighting will get tougher as the forces approach the center of the densely populated city of Raqqa, where most important ISIS occupied sites are concentrated.

In the beginning of June 2017, the international coalition supposedly fighting ISIS, dropped illegal white phosphorus bombs on the civilian areas of Raqqa in Syria. The operation “Operation Euphrates Wrath” spearheaded by US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their military wing the YPG, has begun to remove ISIS, or Da’esh, from Raqqa. But this onslaught does not come without major repercussions for the local population. According to the Assessment Capacities Project, in the coming months at least 440,000 people will need humanitarian assistance after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched the campaign to take Raqqa on 6 June.

Washington Times reports that military commanders in Damascus, Tehran and Moscow are setting their sights on the Syrian city of Deir el-Zour and the surrounding Middle Euphrates River Valley as the battleground for the fight against the jihadi group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Located 90 miles from Raqqa, where U.S.-backed militias began their assault to retake the city last week, the fertile stretch of land along the banks of the Euphrates River is home to Madan, Deir el-Zour and other Islamic State redoubts. Many of the group’s leaders, including “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have fled to the area.

At the same time, according to Middle East Eye,an audio message purporting to come from the spokesman of Islamic State group (IS) called on followers to launch attacks in the US, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the Philippines during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began in late May.

The audio clip was distributed on Monday on Islamic State’s channel on Telegram, an encrypted messaging application. It was attributed to the militant group’s official spokesman, Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer. Meanwhile, IS claimed a suicide bomb attack at a Ayatollah Khomeini shrine and a shooting at the Iranian parliament that left 17 dead. Yesterday police in Iran killed four IS suspects in the south of the country and seized explosive, guns and the group’s flag according to an Iranian news agency.

Sources: Al-Jazeera, Twitter, Middle East Eye, Washington Times, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Human Rights Watch, ARA News, Al-Monitor, AlAraby UK, UN

raqqa map syria
Credit: Wikimedia

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