Syria Kurds an­nounce new plan for ISIS cap­i­tal

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

US-backed Kur­dish-led Syr­ian forces an­nounced their plans to re­take the ISIS de facto cap­i­tal of Raqqa, say­ing they hoped Turkey would not “in­ter­fere in in­ter­nal Syr­ian af­fairs”.

The an­nounce­ment by the Syria Demo­cratic Forces (SDF), a coali­tion of Kur­dish, Arab and Christian forces, was made in Ein Issa, north of Raqqa, at­tended by com­man­ders and spokes­peo­ple for the group. An of­fi­cial who read out a state­ment said the op­er­a­tion to lib­er­ate Raqqa, dubbed the “Euphrates Rage” op­er­a­tion, had of­fi­cially be­gun.

The state­ment said that 30,000 fight­ers will take part in the op­er­a­tion.

The an­nounce­ment comes as US-backed Iraqi forces had en­tered the east­ern edges of the ISIS-held city of Mo­sul and were work­ing to push deeper into the last ISIS ur­ban bas­tion in Iraq.

But the Kur­dish of­fi­cials said the two cam­paigns were not co­or­di­nated, but sim­ply “good tim­ing”.

The SDF is dom­i­nated by the main Syr­ian Kur­dish fight­ing force known as the Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units, or YPG.

The United States con­sid­ers the group as the most ef­fec­tive force against ISIS, but Turkey views it as a ter­ror or­gan­isa- tion and claims it’s linked to Turkey’s out­lawed Kur­dish group. Turk­ish of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayip Er­do­gan, have said they will not ac­cept a role for the Kurds in the lib­er­a­tion of Raqqa.

Turkey’s de­fence min­is­ter sug­gested that in­stead of the Kurds, Turk­ish-backed forces can present an “al­ter­na­tive”.

But Kur­dish of­fi­cials have re­jected any role for Turkey, or the op­po­si­tion forces it backs in­side Syria, in the Raqqa cam­paign, and US of­fi­cials have also ac­knowl­edged that the YPG will be a ma­jor part of any Raqqa of­fen­sive.

“Our hope is that the Turk­ish state will not in­ter­fere in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Syria,” said an uniden­ti­fied SDF of­fi­cial. “Raqqa will be free by its own sons.” There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Turkey or the US.

US of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edged that oust­ing ISIS from Raqqa poses tougher po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges than the of­fen­sive on Mo­sul.

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