RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan24) – Last week, the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria announced the graduation of the first batch of internal security in the liberated areas of Raqqa Province.
Supported by the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dozens of young men gathered in a graduation ceremony at a military base north of Raqqa.
Some graduated security elements said the seven-day intensive training was supervised by American experts.
“The first batch contains 50 security elements, and there are several batches graduating later,” said Edrees Hamo, a senior officer of Raqqa’s Internal Security.
Hamo further explained the trained elements would maintain law and order in Raqqa’s countryside currently and also after full control of the city.
Regarding the identity of the security components, Hameed Musa, an Arab security element from Raqqa, said they were mainly Arabs, in line with Raqqa’s demography.
“Nobody will protect Raqqa [in the future] but its people,” said Musa calling on the people of Raqqa to join the security forces.
The internal security also included Kurds and other ethnic groups reflecting the ethnic make-up of the population.
Since the beginning of the US-backed, Kurdish-led offensive launched last year to retake Raqqa, the SDF trained many groups of local young men and women as security elements to help maintain law in the liberated areas.
Before establishing a civilian council last month to rule the province of Raqqa after liberating the city from IS, police training was conducted in Ain Issa, an SDF-controlled town some 70 kilometers/40 miles north of Raqqa.
However, the batch who graduated last week constituted the official establishment of Raqqa Internal Security.
Regarding the ongoing Raqqa campaign, neither the US nor the SDF has stated how and when the region will be fully liberated.
But the plans for civilian rule, including the Raqqa Civilian Council and Raqqa Internal Security, indicate the determination to free the city regardless.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Redwan Bezar, Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF)