Syria Daily: Kurds-Led SDF — Battle for Raqqa in Final Stages

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2011
Damaged buildings in the old city of Raqqa, August 19, 2017 (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

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The US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said on Wednesday that they are close to the recapture of all of Raqqa city, the Islamic State’s main position in Syria.

“We can say that 80 percent of the city of Raqqa has been liberated,” an SDF statement said. It claimed a new front against ISIS on the northern edge of the city as “a feature of the final stages of the Euphrates Wrath campaign, which is nearing its end”.

An SDF media official said about 700 to 1,000 IS fighters remain in the city, with the US-backed fighters, led by the Kurdish militia YPG, facing a concentration of mines and wanting to avoid harm to civilians.

The SDF, which has pushed back the Islamic State in north and northeast Syria since its formation in autumn 2015, entered Raqqa from the west and east in June, and soon moved into almost half of the city. However, in the past two months its advance has been slow against heavy Islamic State resistance.

US artillery and airstrikes have destroyed much of the city and caused hundreds of civilian casualties since the SDF’s offensive in Raqqa Province began in March.

About 20,000 civilians are estimated to remain in the city, which had a pre-war population of about 220,000.

“Devastating” Effects on Trapped Civilians

The monitor Airwars said in a Wednesday report at least 433 civilians were likely to have been killed in August by the supporting attacks by the US-led coalition, including 5,775 bombs, shells and missiles.

Airwars director Chris Woods said, “More munitions were dropped on Raqqa in August than even during the heaviest fighting in west Mosul,” Iraq’s second city that was regained from the Islamic State in early July..

“And the effects on civilians trapped in the city have been equally devastating,” Woods summarized.

The coalition says it has dropped at least 16,500 munitions in Raqqa and surrounding areas since June, but Woods said it has only acknowledged only four deaths from two incidents so far.

In an e-mail statement to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, the coalition said its operations had killed 685 civilians in Iraq and Syria since 2014.


Reports: Russians Maintain Airstrikes on Idlib Province

Pro-opposition outlets report that Russia is continuing its escalation of airstrikes on Idlib Province in northwest Syria, defying Moscow’s own declaration of a “de-escalation zone” to hit civilians as well as rebel factions not involved in fighting with the Assad regime and its allies.

The al-Dorar site says latest raids included the targeting of commanders of Suqour al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, even though the rebel groups are not involved in attacks which began Tuesday on regime positions in northern Hama Province.

A senior official of Suqour al-Sham said the commanders were unhurt, but the strikes had caused casulaties.

Al-Dorar says four members of one family died in an airstrike on the town of Jarjanaz.

On Tuesday, as fighting surged in northern Hama, Russian and regime warplanes carried out more than 100 strikes on neighboring Idlib, including the destruction of three medical facilities, civil defense positions, and other civilian sites.

See Syria Daily, Sept 20: Rebels Attack in North Hama — Regime Airstrikes Pound Idlib

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17 COMMENTS

  1. What will the ‘Operation Cizire Storm’ bring in its wake?

    A great deal of Syria’s soil will fall without a doubt under the control of the SDF following the completion of this operation and the achievement of its objective, which means this force will be the leading actor in the process of rebuilding a new Syria.
    https://anfenglish.com/news/what-will-the-operation-cizire-storm-bring-in-its-wake-22074 9/13/2017

    World Confederalism

    From the perspective of the Rojava Revolution, democratic confederalism has the potential to be a model that can address a variety of problems in the Middle East. We have created the conditions for stateless people here to organize themselves. This can be applied not only to new conflicts, but possibly to long-standing ones as well, such as the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
    http://www.jonasstaal.nl/site/assets/files/1521/new_worlds.pdf 2016

    A Belgian appeals court […] found that the “PKK is an not a terrorist organisation but a party in a non-international armed conflict.” […]

    Just one day before the decision was announced, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a case of extraordinarily bad timing, tweeted out that Israel “rejects the PKK and considers it a terrorist organization, as opposed to Turkey, which supports the terror org. Hamas.”

    Netanyahu went on to say that Israel “supports the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

    Netanyahu’s fear, of course, is that the Belgians and the Europeans will go soft again on Hamas, and consider them to be “freedom fighters” or perhaps “belligerent parties in an armed conflict,” as the court just found in the case of the PKK.
    http://thehill.com/opinion/international/351190-take-turkeys-kurdish-group-off-the-us-terror-list-for-good 9/18/2017

    • “democratic confederalism has the potential to be a model that can address a variety of problems in the Middle East”

      False. Ocalanism is only promoting a foreign ideology. It aims at deconstructing traditional syrian comunity values applying categories wich are just an embellished version of typical western leftist ideological tradition of tought.

      There´s nothing in common between Karl Marx and a desert arab from a tribe of Deir Ezzor, ocalanism is currently destroying tribal solidarity with the aim of paving the ground for radical individualism. A marxist kurd is a mentally colonized kurd, a person with no respect for his ancestors and tradition, marxists kurds think and speak like westerners.

      • LOL traditional tribalism hasnt progressed the Arabs very far .. also the Kurds were always more westerners than other MENA tribes,thats why they are being hated by arabs persians and turks

        • “traditional tribalism hasnt progressed the Arabs very far”

          So?, “progress” (a secularized christian idea) is just a modern western category of tought not shared by other (non-westernized) civilizations. What has to do semitic arab tribalism with western philosophic idealism?.

          “also the Kurds were always more westerners than other MENA tribes”

          Yeah sure…, if you understand people like Öcalan as genuinely representing kurdish traditional values. But one has to be blind to believe in that.

        • Ahem, Kurds are Persians. Turks are also pretty western, at least on the western parts. The animosity of the Turks is due to Kurd’s desire to separate – which is a right. I agree that the Kurds are more modern and western than the average blockhead people of MENA. The animosity of Kurds with Iran is due to desire for autonomy. Kurds and Persians are one people, but there are some ethnic (and sectarian) differences. Even their language is essentially same.

      • Arab traditionalism and tribalism should be destroyed. Aside for Islam, that is what keeps the Arabs living in the 7th century and acting so backward.

        Problem is that Marxists in general and western cultural/regressive leftists agree with you Bs As, and believe that Arab culture and traditions are sacrosanct and should be preserved as long as it is “anti-imperialistic” and west-hating. Only some core enlightened (albeit anti-democratic) Marxists such as Barbar would disagree with you.

        Problem with Ojalanism is not that it wants to modernize the Kurds. It is that it wants to impose a totalitarian dictatorship on Kurds, a new Stalinism or Chavezism, while keeping a ragtag facade that it is progressive. A 3rd world socialism that we know where that has led to in numerous examples of the 3rd world. And Ojalanism is far from “individualistic”. It is communitarian and collectivist to its core. You are so wrong.

        • Ocalan is jailed in isolation for 18 years now, still many Kurds see him as their leader. He is no Stalin, and his leadership isn’t a result of fear and terror.
          What’s so terrible about some “Communitarianism” (where, unlike in Amrica, people are being treated nicely). Why some Americans (conservative, libertarian) see it as an existential threat? LOL

          • Communitarianism is an utopia, and utopias are dangerous because they are recipes for disasters. They never worked and never will. You can´t just build a society in your mind and then expect that to become real, that´s the mentality of an 18th century french philosopher.

            Do you really think that communitarianism will work in a landlocked territory, without resources and sorrounded by heavy armed enemies?, where are they going to get the money to buy the advanced weaponry and supplies they need to defend themselves?, are the russians ot the US´s going to supply them forever?, or maybe israel?. The only chance for them to survive is to turn themselves into a foreing satellite with forced conscription and a brainwash ideology, it is crystal clear.

          • Heh – communitarianism is when you rely on the goodness of the heart of each member of the community. This is so childish and dumb that I don’t know where to begin. Because it puts feelings, rationalizations, and kumbaya ahead of logic, evidence, and empirical reality. How can you expect people to sacrifice themselves for others, which is the basis of communitarianism? Humans are not robots that can erase their self-interest and become good-for-all communitarians. And when a conflict of interest develops, you will see that even the best communitarian societies will devolve into base authoritarian politics.

            Funny is that all those people who advocate socialism or some form of community to replace democratic competition, have been losers of some sort in society. In effect they back this idea because they will personally benefit from it. Such irony. And then they believe they are soooo altruistic. They can only fool themselves.

            It is an existential return because under communitarianism, there is a point of no return. Once you get past this point, you have lost democratic power to a bunch of populist fell-gooders who will then close down society and assure that they rule for the next one-hundred years ostensibly “for the good of the masses”. History is replete with such regressions.

            If you have a better idea how to do away with liberal-democracy-market-capitalism, then let us know. These are the three legs of civil society. You cannot have civil society and open society without all three legs. Just rehashing simplistic and idealistic failed social experiments and social engineering is a waste of time.

          • I do agree with you that once in power and control, YPG will devlove into an authoritarian cult, and that attracts a lot of leftists, whether it is due to experimentation of self-knowledge/self-administration or due to their future anti-west turn.

            But there is no reason why Syria Kurdistan cannot be independent and functioning at the same time. The only reason it may become dysfuncitonal is the socialism that Ojalan and gang will impose on their state. Otherwise, being a small country in the middle east does not necessarily mean a failed state, nor does it mean it will become a puppet satellite state. Is Peurto Rico a failed puppet satellite state? Is Lebanon a failed puppet state? Is KRG a failed puppet state? A state with a civil society will manage to develop itself economically over time — because the real wealth of nations is labour, and not some copper or oil or tantalum in the ground. Syria Kurdistan has lots of resources. Agriculture for one. A better educated citizenry seeking modernity, for another. They have water resources, and oil resources — probably can become a minor oil exporter (much lesser than KRG). As long as Assad and Russia would leave them alone, I don’t see a major downside to their independence. Even Erdo’an has managed to make friends with the KRG. That is why PKK is in the US camp at the moment. And I don’t think the US has any interest in turning western Kurdistan or KRG into a “satellite puppet state”.

  2. . @karloszurutuza report with our fighters – Syrian Christians advance against IS in de-facto capital p.dw.com/p/2kNim?tw https://t.co/6CjeJFekab @dwnews https://t.co/0a2OFRnqO4
    https://twitter.com/SyriacMFS/status/910547047060770816 9/20/2017

    Russia threatens retaliatory strikes against U.S. troops and their allies in Syria
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russia-warns-of-retaliation-if-facing-fire-from-us-led-coalitionin-syria/2017/09/21/00e3b81c-9eba-11e7-8ed4-a750b67c552b_story.html 9/21/2017

    Why Russia Might Shoot Down American Planes in Syria
    https://stream.org/why-russia-shoot-american-planes-syria/ 6/20/2017

  3. “The monitor Airwars said in a Wednesday report at least 433 civilians were likely to have been killed in August by the supporting attacks by the US-led coalition, including 5,775 bombs, shells and missiles.” — Airwars are a bunch of regressive leftists with an agenda. I would hesitate to depend on their numbers as they are incomplete, out of context, and always aimed to indict the SDF and the US. For example they make no distinction between civilians and combatants, and assume terrorists, except for a core few, are civilians.

    • Just look at the images of the city. And yes, Airwars are leftists but at least they are more consequential with their ideas than those western leftists supporting YPG and PKK.

      • “consequential”? You mean effective? Effective in badmouthing the Kurds and US who are destroying ISIS? I don’t think too many western leftists supports the Kurds or even YPG. Because they are colluding with the imperialists (USA), and wish to modernize Kurdistan. And maybe even because Ojalanism on the surface looks like it encourages private initiative. Western leftists being cultural relativists immensely value the old backward tribal traditions and Islamic ethos that Kurds may harbour. I don’t think Ojalan at this point has turned to regression, at least not yet. Once in power, then it becomes a matter of survival and domination, and he may turn to regression, just as all Marxists and socialists have.

        • I mean consequential with their anti-imperialist rethoric. Many non-consequential and romantic western leftists indeed support the Kurds and YPG, “rojava” for them being just another personal ideological experiment of self-knowledge. Once in power, rojava´s nomenklatura will start crafting everything into the image of the PKK and YPG, clearing political dissident, etc. Landlocked, without resources and sorrounded by enemies they will soon turn into a satellite of another nation, thereby ensuring the next regional crisis.

          • I do agree with you that once in power and control, YPG will devlove into an authoritarian cult, and that attracts a lot of leftists, whether it is due to experimentation of self-knowledge/self-administration or due to their future anti-west turn.

            But there is no reason why Syria Kurdistan cannot be independent and functioning at the same time. The only reason it may become dysfuncitonal is the socialism that Ojalan and gang will impose on their state. Otherwise, being a small country in the middle east does not necessarily mean a failed state, nor does it mean it will become a puppet satellite state. Is Peurto Rico a failed puppet satellite state? Is Lebanon a failed puppet state? Is KRG a failed puppet state? A state with a civil society will manage to develop itself economically over time — because the real wealth of nations is labour, and not some copper or oil or tantalum in the ground. Syria Kurdistan has lots of resources. Agriculture for one. A better educated citizenry seeking modernity, for another. They have water resources, and oil resources — probably can become a minor oil exporter (much lesser than KRG). As long as Assad and Russia would leave them alone, I don’t see a major downside to their independence. Even Erdo’an has managed to make friends with the KRG. That is why PKK is in the US camp at the moment. And I don’t think the US has any interest in turning western Kurdistan or KRG into a “satellite puppet state”.

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