YPG-led, US-backed forces stand few kilometers from Raqqa
RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan24) – The US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria on Saturday announced they advanced to within a few kilometers of Raqqa city.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is a key component, told Kurdistan24 they liberated several villages and gained ground in the western countryside of Raqqa a few days ago.
The SDF fighters said they approached the Ba'ath Dam, a large dam between Raqqa and Tabqa.
They have been clearing the areas around the dam from IS militants to prevent any counterattack by the group on the dam’s structure.
“We are making quick headway toward the city, and we will take control of the [Ba’ath] dam very soon. I predict in a few days,” said Faqaz Kobani, a Syrian Kurdish SDF fighter.
Another SDF fighter told Kurdistan24 Raqqa is about three kilometers far from their frontline.
IS insurgents, on the other hand, are still planting mines and digging tunnels around the city.
However, the SDF fighters confirmed they would engage in fighting IS militants in the city very soon.
“In a few days, we will be at the entrances of Raqqa,” said Yusuf Osman, a Syrian Arab SDF fighter.
Additionally, in a statement on Thursday, the SDF promised no harm would come to IS militiamen in Raqqa who turned themselves in by the end of the month, calling on them to lay down their arms.
“A May 15 appeal for militants to turn themselves in within 10 days had achieved positive results,” the SDF statement read.
“The deadline would now be extended until May 31 based on requests from the noble people of Raqqa and its Civilian Council,” the report continued.
The SDF statement also said the appeal would guarantee the lives of militants who turn themselves in and the safety of their families regardless of their position, paving the way for the settlement of their situation.
The forces have allocated several brigades to fight in the city and control it after the liberation of Tabqa, an SDF-controlled strategic town some 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Raqqa.
They are supported by heavy weapons and aided by the US-led coalition airstrikes. This will help control the city very soon.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Redwan Bezar, Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF campaign in northern Raqqa)