Raqqa, Syria, which is supposedly the “capital” for IS forces in Syria is to undergo an operation by The Syria Democratic Force (SDF). The offensive will be aided by airstrikes from the US-led coalition.
A warning has been issued to civilians to clear the area which is currently hiding IS militants at a press conference held in Ain Issa, Syria.
As part of the pre-operation steps, the rebel forces have gained ground in areas north of the city with the idea of closing in on IS very soon. An SDF representative has said that “The major battle to liberate Raqqa and its surroundings has begun,” This is will one of the most ambitious projects against IS to liberate parts of Syria from their control.
Raqqa is the biggest stronghold of IS in Syria and the SDF expects the IS to fight back heavily as a win here for the Rebel forces would translate into a decisive victory and establishing the notion of who holds more power over the troubled country.
The Syrian Regime is not backed by the US and they are relying on the SDF to lead the fight against IS in the northern parts of the country but the SDF is primarily made up of fighters from the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) but they are not backed by Turkey who views them as a terrorist organization amidst the increasingly volatile scenario in the Middle East.
The problem arises as the YPG has been accused numerous times of expelling non-Kurdish people from the areas that go under their control, undermining neighbor relations which are crucial from wresting back control of areas from IS, which is now spread across Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Different forces in Syria have seen infighting among themselves and any operation would not see them stand on a united front against the jihadists.
More than 16% territory controlled by the IS has been recovered by the US-led forces since the start of the year according to the HIS conflict monitor.