Middle East Battling IS in Syria: Why was Raqqa offensive halted again

Battling IS in Syria: Why was Raqqa offensive halted again
A US fighter stands near a military vehicle, north of Raqqa city, Syria, Nov. 6, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Rodi Said)

AIN ISSA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday announced they might return to the town of Manbij to support their allies against the Turkey-backed Syrian Islamist rebel’s attacks.

In a statement which Kurdistan24 received a copy of, the SDF said after they liberated the strategic town of Tal Samin (some 25 kilometers/15 miles north of Raqqa) from the Islamic State (IS) last week, they would move westward to join the Manbij Military Council (MMC).

“After this aggression by the Turkish army and affiliated mercenaries against MMC, we are ready to fight along the Manbij Military Council against Turkish occupation,” the SDF statement said.

On Aug. 25, the SDF withdrew from Manbij after liberating it from IS on Aug. 12 in a two-month battle.

Three weeks ago, the SDF launched an offensive to retake the city of Raqqa from IS insurgents.

Within two weeks, the SDF liberated dozens of villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa in addition to two strategic towns: Hisha and Tal Samin.

However, the SDF fighters stopped their advancement towards Raqqa after liberating Tal Samin last week.

Kurdistan24 correspondents embedded with the SDF reported on Friday the SDF fighters in Tal Samin threw up earth barricades at the southern areas of the town to prevent any IS counterattack.

“We may return to Manbij because the Turkish army is shelling there and the international coalition is not defending it,” an SDF fighter said on condition of anonymity.

Additionally, the SDF statement called on the US-led international coalition against IS to protect the areas that were liberated from IS.

“We would also like to emphasize the need for the International Coalition, led by the US, to carry out their obligations to support the MMC in Manbij,” the statement said.

Last week, heavy clashes erupted between the SDF and the Turkey-backed Syrian Islamist rebel groups who attacked the western rural areas of Manbij along with airstrikes by the Turkish warplanes.

 

RAQQA BATTLE HALTED TWICE

FIRST TIME

On May 24, the SDF launched an operation targeting the northern parts of Raqqa where wide areas were captured from IS, but the offensive was stopped and moved toward Manbij.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led, US-backed SDF launched the Manbij operation on May 31 and liberated the town completely on Aug. 12 after a two-month battle.

SECOND TIME

On Nov. 5, the YPG-led SDF launched an operation to drive IS from its de facto capital in Syria.

However, the SDF announced on Nov. 24 they would return to Manbij to support their allies of MMC fighters.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

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