The US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday announced the launch of military operations to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS, the militants’ so-called capital.
SDF commanders said at a press conference in the Syrian town of Ain Issa that the US-led coalition would provide air cover. They added that the offensive began Saturday and that some villages already had been liberated and that confrontations are ongoing.
A female commander said that the goal of the operation, called Euphrates Rage, was to evict ISIS from Raqqa. Eighty percent of the force is made up of locals from Raqqa, with SDF having 30,000 fighters in the offensive, the commanders said.
“We in the general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces give you the good news of the launch of our big military offensive to liberate the city of Raqqa and its suburbs from the clutches of the terror forces of the dark world, represented by Daesh (ISIS) which made the city the capital of its self-styled caliphate,” a female commander of the SDF said in a televised statement.
The Syrian Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) is the backbone of the SDF, which was formed last year to fight ISIS. It is backed by the US-led alliance against ISIS.