AIN ISSA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Tuesday said they liberated several villages and gained ground in the first three days of an offensive to retake the city of Raqqa from Islamic State (IS) insurgents.
Kurdistan24 correspondents embedded with the SDF reported the forces advanced about 14 kilometers (9 miles) towards the IS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria.
So far, the SDF with the aid of the US-led coalition air strikes liberated about 14 villages and several farms in northern Raqqa.
In a US Department of Defense Press Briefing on Monday by the Pentagon, Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed that with the US-led coalition support, the offensive to retake the city of Raqqa would be successful.
“We do not underestimate the hard work ahead for the local forces that will carry out the fight for Raqqa,” he added.
“We are confident that with the help of the coalition, they will be successful,” Cook continued.
On Sunday, the SDF launched the offensive from two fronts. The first one was the Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa (an SDF-controlled town some 70 kilometers/40 miles to the north of Raqqa).
The second front was set off from the town of Suluk (some 84 kilometers/52 miles to the north of Raqqa).
On the Ain Issa front, the SDF fighters liberated six villages advancing about 10 kilometers/6 miles.
On the Suluk front, the SDF engaged in heavy clashes with IS insurgents in the village of Laqta which has a strategic location on a hill in northern Raqqa and overlooks the area towards the city.
“The fighters of Wrath of The Euphrates [the name of the offensive] have killed at least 11 [IS] insurgents and liberated the village of Laqta which provides a strategic base for our forces,” said a statement issued by the SDF command on Tuesday.
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 towards Manbij.
The 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.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan24 correspondents embeded with SDF: Ekrem Salih and Redwan Bezar)