Massive 50,000 Kurdish-Arab Force Begins Assault to Liberate Key ISIS City
More than 50,000 fighters from Syria’s Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians, launched Tuesday a major offensive on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State group in Syria, Kurdish news website Rudaw has reported.
Today our forces headed to Raqqa," a source from the the coalition told Rudaw as his forces kicked off operations from Tel Abyad town in northern Syria. "Our forces will be advancing to the villages of Fatse Big, Fatse Small and Tishi, in order to clear them of ISIS militants first," the source added, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
Tel Abyad was freed from the extremist group in June 2015 by YPG forces. The town is located on the Turkish-Syrian border less than 15 miles north of Raqqa and was used as a major lifeline for the extremist group providing fighters and supplies from Turkey.
By launching the offensive against Raqqa, the source said, Kurdish forces along with Syrian Democratic Forces are responding to requests made by the residents of the city to liberate it from the extremist group. The Islamic State group declared Raqqa the capital of its caliphate on June, 29, 2014. Raqqa is located on the north bank of the Euphrates River, some 100 miles east of Aleppo.
Syrian Kurds have been hailed by several governments over their successful operations against the extremist group and retaking several towns and cities in Syria from them. The massive operation in Syria’s Raqqa comes as Iraqi forces are in the final stages of preparing an assault to retake Mosul, the largest city the extremist group controls in Iraq. The Iraqi army has also reportedly been moving closer to the town of Fallujah west of Baghdad Tuesday. Fallujah is the first city that fell to the Islamic State group in June 2014.