Syria Daily: Raqqa’s People to “Decide Future Within Federal” System — Kurds-Led SDF

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Syrian Democratic Forces fighters with a poster of Abdollah Ocalan, founder of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, in Raqqa, Syria, October 19, 2017

Kurdish statement still leaves future of Syria’s 7th-largest city unclear


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The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have said that the people of Raqqa, completely taken this week from the Islamic State, will decide their future “within the framework of a decentralized, federal, democratic Syria”.

The SDF pledged in a Friday declaration of liberation “to protect the frontiers of the province against all external threats”, and to hand control to a civil council after the clearing of mines from the city.

Raqqa has a majority-Arab population but Kurdish groups, including the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Party (PYD), are pursuing Kurdish autonomy across northern Syria with an elected assembly by January.

The declaration did not specify the relationship between Raqqa and the Assad regime, which has rejected any federal system or Kurdish autonomy. The regime’s National Reconciliation Minister, Ali Haidar, said Raqqa’s future can only be discussed “as part of the final political structure of the Syrian state”.

Turkey is also wary of the arrangement because it believes the PYD is part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK. Ankara said on Friday that the unfurling of a large banner in central Raqqa with the portrait of imprisoned PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan showed the uS had been working with “terrorists”, through its backing of the SDF.

The SDF, led by the PYD’s militia YPG, defeated the final ISIS fighters in Raqqa early this week after a four-month offensive in which several hundred civilians were killed and many thousands displaced.

See Podcast: ISIS is Defeated in Syria’s Raqqa — Now Another Battle Begins


Pro-Assad Forces Retake Qaryatayn from ISIS

Pro-Assad forces have retaken the town of Qaryatayn in eastern Homs Province, lost to the Islamic State in late September.

The regime military said that, alongside foreign allies, it “restored security and stability” and removed explosive devices and mines.

As a pro-Assad offensive pressed ahead to the east in Deir ez-Zor Province, the Islamic State launched a surprise counter-offensive more than three weeks ago, reaching the town 300 km (190 miles) from Deir ez-Zor city and overrunning a small pro-Assad garrison.


Israel Again Strikes Regime Positions in Southwest

The Israeli military has again struck Assad regime positions in southwest Syria, hitting three artillery targets hours after five projectiles landed in open ground in Israeli-occupied territory.

The Israel Defense Forces said the targets were in the northern Golan Heights. The statement warned:

Even if this is just spillover, this is an exceptional incident and the continuance of such events will be met with a more fierce Israeli response. The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents, and considers the Syrian regime responsible for what is happening in its territory.

Israel has periodically fired on the regime’s military near the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. Earlier in the week, Israeli jets bombed an anti-aircraft battery near Damascus after an anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli warplane. On Thursday evening, Israeli tanks fired on a mortar position that reportedly fired a shell across the border, hitting an open field in the Heights.

The Assad regime’s military said of the latest incident that “the Israeli aggression came after terrorists had launched mortar shells, upon the instructions of the Israeli entity”.

The regime’s Foreign Ministry later wrote letters to the UN claiming that the Israeli strike was “a new cycle of outright collusion between the Israeli occupation and armed terrorist groups”. It expressed surprise at the “UN Security Council’s inability to stop and condemn the Israeli attacks”.


Russia Renews Threat to Shut Down UN-OPCW Investigators Over Assad’s Chemical Attacks

Russia has renewed its threat to shut down the international investigators of chemical attacks in Syria.

The mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is up for renewal next month.

In an attempt to block a JIM report finding the Assad regime responsible for the April 4 nerve agent attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, killing at least 92 people and wounding hundreds, Moscow has indicated that it will block the renewal.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry official Mikhail Ulyanov responded to the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, after she pointed to Moscow’s tactics: “This is not true, although I can hardly keep from using stronger words: this is a lie, twisting the facts and crooked gambling.”

Ulyanov framed the Russian plan as dependent “on the quality of the report rather than on its conclusions”.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Kevin from yesterday
    “…We’re also allied with the government in Baghdad (…) So I guess according to you we were supposed to infuriate our allies in Baghdad and Turkey for the Kurds”.
    Listen. Iraq and Turkey aren’t your allies. In fact, you are the most hated creatures on earth by Iraqis and Turks.

    • Yeah, actually we are allied with those countries governments regardless of how their people feel about America. Turkey hosts probably the most important air base for US planes in the entire region and is a member of NATO. Incirlik. Maybe you heard of it. And Iraq is an important country in the region that has long had strategic significance to the US. Unless you want Iraq to become a full blown Iranian satellite state then the alliance with the US is a good thing. With thinking like that it’s no wonder Israel doesn’t have many allies in the world.
      If a kurdish state is so important to Israel why don’t you all do something about it rather than bitching because other countries won’t fight your battles for you?

        • So you want US to protect the Kurds, while making enemies of all the four countries surrounding them, and them, resulting in another Israel-like state that is perpetually at war – not with 2 bit terrorists Hamas and Hezbollah, but with four militarized countries – Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria? Are you going to finance that? Of course not.

            • So Iran, Erdo’an, Assad don’t want to be friends. And we stop being friends with Iraq and drive them into the orbit of Iran and Russia. So now Kurds have four unfriendlies surrounding them and blockading them. Then what are you going to do? Ask Amrica to airlift a complete US division to keep the Kurds alive? And surely Israel, a recipient of US military aid, is now going to finance Amrica’s presence in Erbil and Efrin and Deir Ezzor? Are you nuts or have you run out of your medicine?

              Don’t you see that the perps against KRG are the Iranians and not the Iraqis? Who runs PMF? Abadi or Soleimani/Sadr?

    • Does your hatred of Amrica extend to hating the US propping up Israel militarily against the Arabs? If so, do you wish to be driven into the sea? You know that if it were not for Amrica, you would be on the beach right now learning how to swim.

      • Don’t flatter yourself too much. Israel has won its greatest victory in 1967 with ZERO American weaponry. The first fighter jet the IAF got from the US was in 1970. I invite you to fact check.
        Also, many Israelis (not me) trust America and vice versa, because it is about natural alliance (as they see it). I’m talking about unnatural, artificial, fake and forced-on alliances (Iraq Turkey etc)

  2. “Israeli jets bombed an anti-aircraft battery near Damascus after an anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli warplane.” — Hahaha – I mean an anti-aircraft is designed to bring down an enemy aircraft. Not only it fails, but it cannot even defend itself. LMAO. Russian S400 technology? Oh, I see, Russia has now developed the S500 and S400 is outdated. And when the S500 fails, there will be the S600 to sell the dictators.

    “Even the chef says that the meal is too salty …”

    Like having the tugboat that tows a cargo ship into the harbor hit the shoals and sink!

    • Mostly Sunni residents of Raqqa/ Der Ezzor, and Tribal residents in the surrounding towns and villages. YPG should be able to tolerate them, as long as Assad/Erdo’an are breathing down the Kurd’s neck. Would they prefer to live under Assad’s regime or do they wish to join the Rojava federation? The answer is clear. The question is whether Trump/McMaster/Mathis are going to dump them? US Ambassador Robert Ford, supposedly friend of the rebellion, was urging Trump to drop them. I can’t understand why.

        • YPG has expressed very little interest in Raqqa or Deir Ezzor or I would guess the Omar fields. Why would they want to bother about a bunch of tribespeople who have nothing better to do but fight each other? What can Raqqa give the Kurds? In fact it is a cost to the Kurds, and the US had to arm twist YPG to go after ISIS there. Let us not automatically assume that territory or urban populations are automatically an asset. If your goal is to develop and build a country, you would want to make it as small as possible. The councils depend on SDF security. That is a deal brought about by the US. I will not be surprised that the vermin Ojalan believes in the domination of Sunnis. But there is a cost to that and the Kurds will have to look into the mirror and ask themselves, what do we want and can we afford it? For sure they don’t want to cause the Sunnis to plead with Assad or the Jihadists to come to their rescue.

    • Do you know why Ambassador Robert Ford back in August urged the administration to drop SDF and the Kurds after ISIS is defeated, and get out of Syria? Would this not be uncharacteristic?

    • Thanks for the nice article. Nice to once in a while read an article dealing with the central issues. And in an agreeable way. To be contrasted with that mindless article by Robert Ford.

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