Syria Daily: Kurdish-Led SDF Claims Further Advance in ISIS-Held Raqqa

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Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces inside Raqqa, July 31, 2017 (Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF and coalition says force close to link-up in center of Raqqa


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The US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are claiming a further advance inside Raqqa after weeks of stiff Islamic State resistance inside its central position in Syria.

A Kurdish official said on Tuesday that the SDF, which have pushed ISIS back across northern Syria since late 2015, are on the verge of seizing full control of the southern neighborhoods of the city:

There is a fierce resistance from Daesh, so we can’t determine when exactly we’ll take [full control]. Around 90% of the southern neighborhoods are liberated.

After a seven-month campaign in Raqqa Province, the SDF launched the final offensive for Raqqa city in early June. It has captured more than 40% of the city, but has struggled to take ground after breaching the wall of the Old City earlier this month.

Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the campaign against the Islamic State, said last week that the SDF forces from the western and eastern axes of the offensive are close to meeting in central Raqqa. A spokesman for the US-led coalition repeated the claim yesterday, saying the SDF are making “consistent gains” each day and within 300 meters of linking up.

The World Health Organization said that up to 50,000 civilians left in Raqqa face critical shortages of medical supplies. Medecins Sans Frontières said many sick and wounded people re trapped.

The Islamic State has held Raqqa since pushing out Syrian rebels in late 2013.


Report: 40 Russian Troops Killed This Year, 4 Times Official Figure

Reuters, updating its regular report of Russian casualties in Syria, says 40 have been killed this year — four times the official figure from the Defense Ministry.

Reuters derived its total from accounts from families and friends of the slain and from local officials, with most confirmed by more than one person. It exceeds the 36 armed personnel and contractors killed from the start of Russia’s intervention in late September 2015 until the end of 2016.

Reuters’ figure may be conservative, as commanders encourage the families of those killed to keep quiet.

Russian military casualties in peacetime was decreed by President Vladimir Putin in June 2015 to be a state secret.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov portrayed Russian involvement on the ground as private citizens fighting alongside the Syrian army as volunteers: “If there are Russian citizens in Syria as volunteers and so on, they have nothing to do with the state.”

Reuters has evidence that 21 of those killed were private contractors and 17 soldiers. The status of the remaining two is unclear.


Russia Deploys Advanced Warplanes at Hmeimim Base

New satellite images indicate Russia has upgraded its deployment at the Hmeimim airbase in western Syria, with at least 20 of its most capable fighters — Su-27/30/34/35s — on the runways. at the base.

Since its military intervention in September 2015, Russia’s largest deployment was of older attack aircraft such as Su-24 Fencers and Su-25s Frogfoots.

Tyler Rogoway summarizes for The Drive:

The fairly drastic reformation of Russia’s aerial combat capabilities in Syria is another reminder how much the conflict has modernized — and become more internationally volatile —s ince Russia arrived in September of 2015, not to mention since the civil war broke out in 2011. It also underlines how Russia sees the US-led coalition as a real threat to its aims and ambitions in Syria and the region as a whole.

The fact of the matter is that those fighters jets won’t be going anywhere soon. Just as we predicted years ago, part of the deal the Kremlin worked out for saving Assad from immanent defeat was a long-term military presence in the country, which is strategically placed in the Middle East and also on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean.


Confirmed: Computer Programmer Safadi Executed by Regime

The wife of computer programmer Bassel Khartabil Safadi has received confirmation that he was executed by the Syrian regime days after he was taken from Adra Prison in October 2015.

Safadi was detained on March 15, 2012, the one-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising.

The Palestinian Syrian open-source software developer was project lead Creative Commons Syria, opening up the internet in the country and extending access.

Foreign Policy magazine named Safadi as one of its Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2012 “for insisting, against all odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution”. In March 2013, Index on Censorship awarded Bassel the 2013 Digital Freedom Award for his work using technology to promote an open and free internet.

Creative Commons issued a statement:

Around the world, activists and advocates seek the sharing of culture, and open knowledge. Creative Commons, and the global commons of art, history, and knowledge, are stronger because of Bassel’s contributions, and our community is better because of his work and his friendship. His death is a terrible reminder of what many individuals and families risk in order to make a better society.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. SDF political wing rejects terrorism accusations by Turkey-backed Syrian opposition
    https://www.reddit.com/r/syriancivilwar/comments/6r0ejc/sdf_political_wing_rejects_terrorism_accusations/ 8/2/2017

    Mustafa Bali, a media officer of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) […] suggested that the Syrian opposition and Turkey cannot accept that the SDF forces are beating ISIS in it’s so-called capital of Raqqa.
    http://aranews.net/2017/08/syrian-kurds-say-attempts-label-ypg-terrorists-will-fail/ 8/1/2017

    In fact, Etilaf complained about YPG expelling ISIS from Yaroubiyah, calling them “rebels” while ISIS cannibalised FSA elsewhere
    https://twitter.com/arisroussinos/status/889886419405205504 7/25/2017

    • “In fact, Etilaf complained about YPG expelling ISIS from Yaroubiyah, calling them “rebels” while ISIS cannibalised FSA elsewhere”

      Wich gives you a clear idea of how much despised is the YPG in the region (notwithstanding the daily waterfall of cheap antifa propaganda wich saturates western media).

  2. Very interesting that both Jaysh al Thuwar Commanders & @brett_mcgurk are talking now about moving onto Idlib after Raqqa to go after AQ…
    https://twitter.com/Pyrmha108/status/891359921769467904 7/29/2017

    Jaysh Al Suwar Forces Deputy General Commander Ehmed Sultan (Ebû Erac) spoke to ANHA news agency stated that following the recent clashes between gang groups in Idlib which resulted in Tahrir Al Sham and Ahrar Al Sham gangs dividing up the city between them, now the city has been invaded by Tahrir Al Sham gangs.

    Ebû Erac said the Turkish state made new plans after they were not allowed to participate in the operation to liberate Raqqa and continued: “The Turkish state’s invasionist mind knows very well that our forces will turn to Idlib after the Raqqa operation. That is why they want to hand the city over to the Tahrir Al Sham gangs and then invade it citing the war on terror as an excuse.”
    https://anfenglish.com/rojava/turkey-is-looking-to-legitimize-their-invasion-of-idlib-21219 7/27/2017

    US special envoy Brett McGurk […] alluded to Turkey’s role in clearing the path for al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) to tighten its grip on Syria’s Idlib province, on the Syrian border, by “looking the other way” as “thousands of tons of weapons” and foreign fighters entered Syria.

    McGurk said Idlib had become an al-Qaeda safe haven. In a July 27 interview, he told the New Yorker, “We are going to have to work with the Turks and others to degrade this presence.” Turkish officials believe that by “others,” McGurk means the YPG.

    This in turn, they believe, ties in with the United States’ “secret” plan to deploy Special Operation Forces to Afrin, from which they would launch an operation with the YPG to clear Idlib of HTS and in the process fulfill the Syrian Kurds’ long-held dream of reaching the Mediterranean Sea.
    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/mcgurk-syrian-kurds-turkey.html 8/1/2017

    • The role of the Empires´s bitch suits Jaysh al Thuwar very well. But what is priceless is the following propaganda line “That is why they (the turks) want to hand the city over to the Tahrir Al Sham gangs and then invade it citing the war on terror as an excuse”. The same brainless conspiracy theory recasted under a different form, “ISIS is an excuse for the US to destroy syria´s and iraq infrastructure”, “the taliban are an excuse for the US to invade afghanistan and still its resources”, etc.

  3. #National: “#FSA Army of Eastern Lions seize regime T-62 and light weapons while liberating #Mahrutha” – badly_xeroxed
    .
    Forgeting going to the US as beggars (who btw want you to re-locate to the north to fight as SDF/YPG soldier) when you can get the weapons from the Assadists themselves and continue the fight against Assad? That said until rebels get such heavy weapons it’s best to fight regime through mobile warfare and surprise night-time raids.

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