Raqqa offensive (2016–present)

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Raqqa offensive (November 2016–present)
Part of the Syrian Civil War,
the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), and
the American-led intervention in Syria
Northern Raqqa Offensive (November 2016).svg
Map showing the SDF advances
Date 6 November 2016 – present
(2 months, 2 weeks and 4 days)
Location Raqqa Governorate, Syria
Status

Ongoing

  • SDF captures more than 236 villages, hamlets and strategic hills, two water and power stations[3][4]
Territorial
changes
SDF capture more than 3,200 square kilometres (1,200 sq mi) of territory from ISIS during the first and second phase of the offensive[5][6]
Belligerents

Syrian Democratic Forces
CJTF–OIR

 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders

Rojda Felat[7]
(leading YPJ commander and operations chief commander during first phase)[8][9]
Diljin Kobani[10]
(YPJ commander)
Kino Gabriel[11]
(MFS commander)
Syrian opposition Fayad Ghanim[12]
(Raqqa Hawks Brigade commander)
Syrian opposition Abu Saleh al-Hindawi[13]
(Raqqa Hawks Brigade commander)
Syrian opposition Abu Wael[14]
(Liwa Ahrar Raqqa commander)
Capt. Abu al-Qasim al-Shammari (POW)[a]
(Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa commander)
Muhammad Abu Adel[16]
(Northern Sun Battalion chief commander)
Bandar al-Humaydi[11]
(Al-Sanadid Forces military chief commander)
Col. Talal Silo[17] (SDF spokesman)
Abdul Kader Hevidili[18]
(SDF commander)

United States Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
(CJTF–OIR commander)

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi[19]
(Leader of ISIL)
Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti [20]
(leading ISIL commander for Raqqa defenses, c. 11–26 December)[21]
Abu Saraqeb al-Maghribi[22]
(Head of security in Al-Thawrah)
Abu Jandal al-Masri[22]
(Chief of Information in Raqqa)
Abu Muhammad al-Jazrawi[22]
(Chief of Hisba)
Mahmoud al-Isawi [23]
(ISIL proganganda chief)
Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi [24]
(ISIL commander of Middle East external networks)
Zainuri Kamaruddin [25]
(Katibah Nusantara commander)

For other ISIL leaders, see commanders
Units involved

Syrian Democratic Forces

United States United States Armed Forces

France French Armed Forces

United Kingdom British Armed Forces

Military of ISIL

Strength

30,000+ SDF fighters[35][36]

  • Syrian opposition 1,000 Raqqa Hawks fighters[37]
  • 150 Northern Sun Battalion fighters[16]
  • 2,000 Al-Sanadid fighters[38]
  • 2,500 local village militiamen[5][b]
United States 500 American special forces (support role)[40]

8,000+ fighters[41][42] (by May 2016)

Casualties and losses

60 killed[47][48][49][50]

United States 1 killed[52]


198 killed, 15 armored vehicles lost (ISIL claim)[53]
445 killed, 18 captured (SDF claim)[54][5]
62 civilians killed[55]
5,000+ displaced[56]

The Raqqa offensive (codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates), is an ongoing military operation launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Raqqa Governorate, with the goal of isolating and eventually capturing the Islamic State's capital city, Ar-Raqqah.

The offensive is concurrent with the Turkish anti-ISIL Battle of al-Bab, the Iraqi Battle of Mosul in Iraq, and the Palmyra offensive launched by ISIL.

Background

In late October 2016, the United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called for an offensive on Raqqa to take place concurrent with the Battle of Mosul in Iraq. He stated that the US was cooperating with its allies in order to launch an "isolation operation" around Raqqa. On 26 October, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the President of the United States Barack Obama and stated that he did not want the People's Protection Units (YPG) to participate in the planned operation, and instead planned to involve the Turkish Armed Forces. The United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon rejected the idea of non-Arab forces taking part in the offensive and demanded a purely Arab force.[57]

On the same day, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend stressed that the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the only armed group capable of capturing Raqqa in the near future. Fewer US-led coalition troops were to be involved than in the Battle of Mosul.[58] On 3 November, the commander of the Seljuk Brigade and SDF spokesman Col. Talal Silo rejected the participation of Turkey in the operation.[59]

Announcement

The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa.[60] The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself.[61] The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation.[62] In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that "there is hard work ahead".[63]

The offensive

Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland

Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.

On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages,[35] including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa.[64] The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.[10]

On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces.[65] By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL.[66] On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.[67]

As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2 has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.[11] The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa,[68] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Al-Raqqah Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front.[69] On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders.[70] At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms.[71][72] By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside.[73][74] With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.[75]

Stalemate and preparation for the second phase

A United States Air Force airstrike on an ISIL position in the northern countryside of Raqqa.

The second phase of the offensive aims to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa.[75] On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages,[76] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman.[77] Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita,[78] but was unable to break through ISIL's defense line south of Tal Saman.[79] On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered when stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, north of Raqqa.[80]

On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel.[81] On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby Water Pump Station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village's vicinity.[82][83] Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was killed in an American airstrike at Raqqa on 26 November.[84][85]

On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive's second phase was due to start,[86] though it later was delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November.[87] Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib.[88] On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved a foiled suicide attack in Europe in 2015.[84][89] Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December.[90] More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.[31]

Phase Two

Initial advances

SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive's second phase.

SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the north-western and western countrysides of al-Raqqa, ultimately to reach and secure Tabqa Dam. It was also announced that SDF Arab groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village.[91][92] The United States meanwhile announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF.[40] On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured seven more villages from ISIL.[93][94] On 12 December, the SDF captured 4 villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam.[95][96][94] SDF captured 5 villages during the next two days.[97][98][99] On 15 December, SDF captured 3 villages, taking the number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.[100]

Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad's shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territory losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive.[101][102][103][104][105] On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside,[106] but the attack was repelled after a few hours.[107] In the following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF.[108][109] SDF meanwhile went on to declare that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal'at Ja'bar.[110]

Battle of Jabar

A YPG BMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.

On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal'at Ja'bar, including Jabar,[109] which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside.[111] The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam.[109][112][113] Even though a ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after,[114] the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village.[115][116] This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs.[117][118][119] As result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages,[120][121][122] though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.[111] ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam,[123][124] and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting.[111] An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed,[21][125] with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF.[21][20] Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na'im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu 'Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State's official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.[126]

Battle for Jabar's surroundings and further SDF advances in the north

On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local YPG defences.[127] On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled.[128] Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was also a manager of instructions and finances for the group's leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a coalition airstrike on Raqqa.[129] After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of Al-Jarniyah Nahiyah, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town.[130][131] The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.[132]

Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tal Saman against ISIL positions.[4][133] The coalition reportedly captured nine more villages in this area in course of the next three days.[134][135][136][137][138] Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access, and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL's security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed.[139] Another two villages and hamlets were captured by SDF on 5 January.[140]

SDF fighters examine Qal'at Ja'bar. ISIL had built tunnels and wepons depots into the medieval castle.[141]

SDF captured Qal'at Ja'bar (Ja'bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January.[142][143] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive.[144] SDF later captured 8 villages and 5 hamlets at the Ayn Issa front.[145] On 7 January, SDF captured 5 villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi[146][147] and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam.[148] ISIL however reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes.[149] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.[150] On 9 January, SDF captured another village along with three hamlets.[151]

On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites;[152] with pro-rebel sources claiming Qal'at Ja'bar and the village of Jabar were among these sites.[153] ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack.[154] Pro-SDF sources meanwhile have denied Qal'at Ja'bar was captured,[155] while SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village a few days later.[156]

An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, following which SDF advanced and captured 6 hamlets around it.[157] SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days,[158] besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets.[159] All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land.[160] Another village was captured by SDF on 13 January.[161][162] On 15 January, SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village,[163] while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements.[164] The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting.[165] The SDF captured 3 villages during the day,[166] while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again.[167] On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Al-Raqqah announced their support for the offensive and for the locals to join the SDF.[168][169]

Fighting in the Suwaydiya area and the SDF attack Al-Tabqa Dam

The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village.[170] Meawhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began.[171] On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters.[172][173] Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages.[174] The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village,[175] and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes[176] with the support of U.S. special forces.[177]

The SDF approached the Al Taqba dam. With the dam access limited to a single road, an operation was launched to take it and the town of Al-Taqba, including air support on ISIS defences, and an amphibious landing (see Battle of Al-Tabqa Dam (2017)).

Civil administration of SDF captured territory

On 14 November, the SDF's civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of Islamic State. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed was quoted saying that "such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country."[178]

On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that "a governance structure representative of the local population" similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa.[179] On 10 December, Cihan Shekh Ehmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated.[31]

ISIL commanders involved in the offensive

  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State. He is believed to be still actively leading ISIL, and to be hiding somewhere in Ar-Raqqah city, according to the majority of experts.[19][180]
  • Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti : The leading ISIL commander for Raqqa defences from his appointment on 11 December until his death by an airstrike 15 days later.[20][181][21]
  • Abu Saraqeb al-Maghribi: Head of security in Al-Thawrah, appointed around 31 December after his predecessor was arrested by ISIL on corruption charges.[22]
  • Abu Ahmed al-Souri: Chief of Information in Raqqa until he was replaced around 31 December.[22]
  • Abu Jandal al-Masri: Chief of Information in Raqqa, appointed at the personal request of al-Baghdadi around 31 December[22]
  • Abu Muhammad al-Jazrawi: Chief of Hisba police, appointed around 31 December[22]
  • Mahmoud al-Isawi : ISIL proganganda chief, who handled ISIL's intelligence and propaganda networks, while also overseeing and organizing the instructions and finances for the group's officials. He was killed on 31 December by an airstrike.[23]
  • Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi : The ISIL commander of Middle East external networks; in this position he was responsible for overseeing various terror attacks and plots against targets in the region, especially Americans, Turkish and European ones. He was also connected to "convoy, reconnaissance, and facilitation extremist travel, finances and weapons in the region". He was killed by an airstrike on 12 November.[24]
  • Abo Sufian al-Orani:  A Tunisian top commander, who oversaw the contacts and coordination between ISIL commanders in Syria and Iraq. He was killed by a drone strike around 8 January.[182]
  • Zainuri Kamaruddin : Also known as "Abu Talhah", Zainuri Kamaruddin served as one of the leaders of the Malay-speaking unit Katibah Nusantara, and was killed by an airstrike on Raqqa on 13 January.[25][183]
  • Abu Zur al-Tunisi: An ISIL senior commander who deserted to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib around 7 December.[88]
  • Bilal al-Shawwash: An ISIL senior commander who deserted to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib around 7 December.[88]
  • Boubaker Al-Hakim : A notable ISIL veteran commander and external operations planner, who was connected to the Charlie Hebdo shooting. He was killed by an airstrike on 26 November.[84]
  • Salah Gourmet : An ISIL leader and external operations planner, who was killed by an airstrike on 4 December.[84]
  • Sammy Djedou : An ISIL leader and external operations planner, who was killed by an airstrike on 4 December.[84]
  • Walid Hamman : An ISIL leader and suicide attack planner, who was killed by an airstrike on 4 December.[84]
  • Abo Hamza Riadiat : A Jordanian commander who was killed together with al-Orani around 8 January.[182]
  • Unknown emir of al-Fakhikha (POW): A lower-ranking local commander/official, who was arrested by ISIL around 8 January on charges that he might have sold information to the Kurds or CJTF–OIR.[182]

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ Abu al-Qasim al-Shammari was reportedly captured by the Raqqa Hawks Brigade during alleged SDF infighting.[15]
  2. ^ 1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one;[39] 1,000 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase two[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Sirwan Kajjo (21 December 2016). "Kurdish-Arab Forces in Syria Make Gains in Raqqa Province". Voice of America. 
  2. ^ a b Steven Swinford (25 December 2016). "Operation Raqqa: British RAF pilots to switch bombing raids to 'the heart' of Isil". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  3. ^ قوات سوريا الديمقراطية تحرز تقدماً جديداً وترفع إلى 48 عدد القرى والمزارع المسيطر عليها
  4. ^ a b "Wrath of Euphrates progressing, 110 villages liberated till now". Hawar News Agency. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "SDF: 2480 square kilometers liberated during Phase II of Raqqa Campaign". YPG Rojava. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Islamic State replaces Syrian officials by foreign jihadists in Raqqa".  First phase: 560 km² captured
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  11. ^ a b c d "550 km2 liberated, Wrath of Euphrates reveals outcomes". Hawar News Agency. 14 November 2016. 
  12. ^ "A military commander" we will besiege gangs on all sides"". Hawar News Agency. 7 November 2016. 
  13. ^ "Wrath of Euphrates fighters head for al-Sokeri". Hawar News Agency. 20 November 2016. 
  14. ^ arabthomness (11 December 2016). "#Syria: the #SDF coalition (#YPG, local #FSA, allied arab tribes) have launched the second stage of the offensive to liberate #Raqqa" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  15. ^ ""Intentionally" fights Arab allies .. and "revolutionaries tenderness" reveal planned". Baladi News. 27 December 2016. 
  16. ^ a b c "Shams al-Shamal fighters participating in Wrath of Euphrates". Hawar News Agency. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  17. ^ "Raqqa battle resumes, more rebels join Kurdish-led forces". Kurdistan24. 10 December 2016. 
  18. ^ a b "Abdul Kader Hevdili evaluates the 2nd phase of Wrath of Euphrates". Hawar News Agency. 21 December 2016. 
  19. ^ a b US aware of recent ISIS leader Baghdadi movements following months of no known sightings
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  24. ^ a b Thomas Joscelyn (17 November 2016). "US-led coalition killed emir of Islamic State's 'Middle East external networks'". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 
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  29. ^ "Syrian Rebellion Obs on Twitter". Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
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  32. ^ Syria_Rebel_Obs (6 November 2016). "EXCLUSIVE SRO - Former leader of the main #Tabqa #FSA factions, Liwa Owais al-Qarni, entered Northern Federation days ago" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  33. ^ https://twitter.com/DefenseUnits/status/822519577766572032
  34. ^ "More US special forces for Raqqa than Manbij: monitor". Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  35. ^ a b Tomson, Chris (6 November 2016). "Kurdish forces capture first batch of villages from ISIS in campaign to liberate Raqqa". Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  36. ^ 30,000 militants to isolate Raqqa city from its northern countryside
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  38. ^ "Al-Sanadid Forces join the Operation Wrath of Euphrates". ANF News. 14 November 2016. 
  39. ^ "Another group of liberated villages citizens joined SDF". Hawar News Agency. 12 January 2017. 
  40. ^ a b "US to deploy 200 more troops for Raqqa offensive". Al Jazeera. 10 December 2016. 
  41. ^ "Syria conflict: Kurds launch campaign north of IS-held Raqqa". BBC. 25 May 2016. 
  42. ^ "Fake Caliphate: Loss of Raqqa Will 'End Sponsors From Foreign Nations'". Sputnik News. 
  43. ^ "US official estimates there are about 2,000 ISIS fighters in Raqqah, 18,000 total in Syria and Iraq". 14 November 2016. 
  44. ^ "In the first response from the leadership to "the Military Amir of Raqqah", about 200 Syrian fighters arrive from Iraq to Raqqah". SOHR. 25 November 2016. 
  45. ^ "SDF fighters liberated children exploited by ISIS". Hawar News Agency. 18 January 2017. 
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  48. ^ "'Intense' fighting in Mosul as civilians flee". 
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  50. ^ Raqqa campaign: Two thousand 480km2 land liberated
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  52. ^ US service member killed in blast in Syria
  53. ^ "ISIS claims 198 Kurdish fighters killed in northern Raqqa". 
  54. ^ First Phase: 185 killed[1] Second Phase: 260+ killed, 18 captured[2]
  55. ^ التحالف الدولي يزهق أرواح أكثر من 60 مدني سوري خلال تغطيته لعملية “غضب الفرات” الهادفة لـ “عزل مدينة الرقة”
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  61. ^ "US-backed forces launch bid to capture IS Syria 'capital'". Al Monitor. 6 November 2016. 
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  63. ^ "Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Raqqa". U.S. Department of Defense. 6 November 2016. 
  64. ^ "Kurdish forces capture first batch of villages from ISIS in campaign to liberate Raqqa". Almasdar News. 6 November 2016. 
  65. ^ "Syrian Democratic Forces report first gains in Raqqa operation, capture 11 villages". ARA News. 8 November 2016. 
  66. ^ Tomson, Chris (11 November 2016). "Syrian Democratic Forces overrun ISIS bastion north of Raqqa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  67. ^ "Continued clashes in Raqqa countryside". SOHR. 12 November 2016. 
  68. ^ "Continued clashes and SDF advance in 33 villages". SOHR. 14 November 2016. 
  69. ^ "IS attacks SDF in Raqqa countryside". SOHR. 14 November 2016. 
  70. ^ Chris Tomson (16 November 2016). "Kurdish forces capture another village in push towards Raqqa city". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 
  71. ^ "An explosion in Tal Abyad town and clashes in the vicinity of Tal al-Samn". SOHR. 15 November 2016. 
  72. ^ "YPG sdf us forces New advancement in about 10 areas in the countryside of Al-Raqqah within the operation of isolating the city from its countryside". SOHR. 15 November 2016. 
  73. ^ "Controlling Tal al-Samn area north of Al-Raqqah raises the number of areas controlled by The Syria Democratic Forces of "Euphrates Wrath" to 47". SOHR. 19 November 2016. 
  74. ^ "SDF fighters completely liberate Tal Saman". Hawar News Agency. 19 November 2016. 
  75. ^ a b "Raqqa will mark Islamic State's downfall". Asia Times. 20 November 2016. 
  76. ^ "The Syria Democratic Forces raise the number of villages and farms controlled to 48, Coalition bombards north of Al-Raqqah". SOHR. 21 November 2016. 
  77. ^ "School students demonstrate against imposing Kurdish books in Hasakah". SOHR. 21 November 2016. 
  78. ^ "Continued clashes between IS and SDF in Raqqa". SOHR. 23 November 2016. 
  79. ^ Chris Tomson (24 November 2016). "Breaking: US soldier dies due to ISIS booby trap in northern Syria". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 25 November 2016. 
  80. ^ "U.S. soldier fighting ISIS is killed in northern Syria after stepping on an explosive near Raqqa". 
  81. ^ "200 ISIS members arrive to Syria's Raqqa: rights group". 
  82. ^ "Violent clashes in the vicinity of Tal Sawwanah area and in the northern countryside of Al-Raqqah". SOHR. 26 November 2016. 
  83. ^ "IS regained control of water pump/station near Kaltah in north Raqqa countryside following clashes with SDF yesterday". Syria Live Map. 27 November 2016. 
  84. ^ a b c d e f Thomas Joscelyn (13 December 2016). "Pentagon: 2 Paris attack facilitators killed in US airstrike in Raqqa, Syria". Long War Journal. 
  85. ^ "US airstrike killed militant linked to Charlie Hebdo attack". Business Standard. 10 December 2016. 
  86. ^ "Jihan Ahmad: Second phase of the Raqqa campaign due to start". Hawar News Agency. 27 November 2016. 
  87. ^ "Five Kurdish fighters killed by ISIS fire north Raqqa". ARA News. 30 November 2016. 
  88. ^ a b c Sirwan Kajjo (20 November 2016). "2 Top IS Commanders Reportedly Flee Raqqa". VOA News. 
  89. ^ "Paris attack planners among 3 ISIS fighters killed in drone strike, Pentagon says". 4 December 2016. 
  90. ^ "Over 1,000 new fighters join Syrian Democratic Forces in fight for Raqqa". ARA News. 10 December 2016. 
  91. ^ "Coalition warplanes target the northern countryside again, and the regime forces shell al-Vgeh in the countryside of Daraa after advancement of the factions". SOHR. 10 December 2016. 
  92. ^ "SDF: Phase 2 of Raqqa campaign begins, sights set on al-Tabqa dam". Rudaw. 10 December 2016. 
  93. ^ "Wrath of Euphrates liberates 6 villages". Hawar News Agency. 11 December 2016. 
  94. ^ a b "Kurdish-Arab alliance captures new areas in Raqqa, tells ISIS jihadists: "Surrender or Die"". ARA News. 13 December 2016. 
  95. ^ "Two villages liberated in al-Raqqa". Hawar News Agency. 12 December 2016. 
  96. ^ "Ajaj and Safakhir villages freed". Hawar News Agency. 12 December 2016. 
  97. ^ SDF advances in 2 villages over IS in Raqqa countryside
  98. ^ Casualties and injuries in Deir Ezzor city and Syria Democratic Forces advance in the countryside of Al-Raqqah
  99. ^ Clashes in Deir Ezzor city and new advancement for the Syria Democratic Forces at the northern countryside of Al-Raqqah
  100. ^ SDF advances in 20 areas in Raqqa countryside
  101. ^ Ivan Yakovlev (19 December 2016). "Syrian Democratic Forces reach Euphrates, besiege ISIS-held area". al-Masdar News. 
  102. ^ Clashes continue in Raqqa countryside between IS and SDF
  103. ^ "Syrian Democratic Forces capture new areas west Raqqa amid ISIS retreat". ARA News. 18 December 2016. 
  104. ^ "Kurd-led forces press Islamic State near Syria's Raqqa". Reuters. 19 December 2016. 
  105. ^ SDF advance in 40 villages in Raqqa countryside
  106. ^ "ISIL launched counter-offensive west to Raqqa and regained several villages: Sayqul(صايقول), Khirbat Al Jahsha(خربة الجحشة), Al Majibina(المجيبنة), Khirbat Al Baqra(خربة البقرة)". Syria Live Map. 19 December 2016. 
  107. ^ "ISIS attack thwarted, 9 mercenaries killed". Hawar News Agency. 19 December 2016. 
  108. ^ "Kurdish YPG Forces Liberate 54 Villages From ISIS In Province Of Raqqah". South Front. 20 December 2016. 
  109. ^ a b c "YPG FORCES SEIZE JABAR, DEPLOY CLOSER TO AL-TABQA DAM". South Front. 21 December 2016. 
  110. ^ "US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces expel ISIS from 97 villages west Raqqa". ARA News. 21 December 2016. 
  111. ^ a b c Ahmed Shiwesh (27 December 2016). "Kurdish-led SDF forces expel ISIS from key town west Raqqa, kill over 50 jihadists". ARA News. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  112. ^ "KURDISH YPG SEIZES 3 MORE VILLAGES IN RAQQA PROVINCE, ADVANCING TOWARDS TABQA DAMN". South Front. 21 December 2016. 
  113. ^ Warplanes raid on Deir Ezzor and its western countryside and clashes continue in the western countryside of Al-Raqqah
  114. ^ "SDF Kurds have captured Jabah, Bir Shallal and Ghadban, but were pushed back by IS at Jabar in West Raqqa governate". Sytia Live Map. 22 December 2016. 
  115. ^ "KURDISH YPG FORCES CAPTURE SUWAYDIYA SAGHIRAH IN SYRIA'S RAQQAH PROVINCE (MAP, VIDEO)". South Front. 23 December 2016. 
  116. ^ "SDF captured Jedi, Jabar villages and control Suwaydiya Saghirah. West Raqqa". Syria Live Map. 23 December 2016. 
  117. ^ "Wrath of Euphrates: 16 ISIS militants killed in heavy clashes". Hawar News Agency. 23 December 2016. 
  118. ^ "IS detonates 3 suicide cars in Raqqa countryside". SOHR. 23 December 2016. 
  119. ^ "Raqqa Campaign: Seven bomb-laden vehicles destroyed". Hawar News Agency. 23 December 2016. 
  120. ^ "The Syria Democratic Forces advance in the northern banks of the Euphrates River". SOHR. 24 December 2016. 
  121. ^ "At least 16 ISIS militants killed by SDF fire near Raqqa". ARA News. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 
  122. ^ "Two more villages liberated in Raqqa following heavy clashes". ANF News. 24 December 2016. 
  123. ^ "SDF 5km from strategic Tabqa dam west of Raqqa". Rudaw. 25 December 2016. 
  124. ^ "The Syria Democratic Forces and US Special Forces are 5 km away from the Euphrates Dam, kill 25 members of the "Islamic State" at least". SOHR. 25 December 2016. 
  125. ^ "38 ISIS members killed amid severe clashes in Jabar and Hadaj villages". ANF News. 27 December 2016. 
  126. ^ "Indian national killed in Syria while fighting for ISIS". al-Masdar News. 28 December 2016. 
  127. ^ Paul Antonopoulos (27 December 2016). "ISIS attacks Kurdish positions south of Kobani". al-Masdar News. 
  128. ^ "A village liberated and 38 mercenaries killed". Hawar News Agency. 28 December 2016. 
  129. ^ "Coalition strike kills senior ISIS leader in Syria: US". The Daily Star. 6 January 2017. 
  130. ^ J.O (1 January 2017). "Wrath of Euphrates advances 6 km towards Til Samin". Hawar News Agency. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  131. ^ Syria Democratic Forces advance in the countryside of al-Tabaqa within “Euphrates Wrath” operation
  132. ^ "Kurdish-led SDF announces liberation of 110 villages, death of 277 ISIS militants in fresh operations near Raqqa". ARA News. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  133. ^ "Another strategic step in the Operation Wrath of Euphrates". ANF News. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  134. ^ "SDF fighters liberate three more Raqqa villages". Hawar News Agency. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017. 
  135. ^ "Report: On Ayn Issa front SDF captured Nediye village from ISIL". Syria Live Map. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017. 
  136. ^ "On Ayn Issa front SDF recaptured Mayan village from ISIL". Syria Live Map. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017. 
  137. ^ Ahmed Shiwesh (4 January 2017). "Syrian Democratic Forces seize more ground west Raqqa, push to ISIS capital". ARA News. Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  138. ^ "Ain Issa front: SDF captured villages Erbo, Dehlan, Arir, Swwillam, Khirbi Shekh Jiddi". Syria Live Map. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  139. ^ Sirwan Kajjo (3 January 2017). "IS Tightens Internet Restrictions in Raqqa". Voice of America. Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  140. ^ "Two villages and two hamlets liberated". Hawar News Agency. 5 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  141. ^ "US-backed Kurdish Forces Capture Historic Castle From IS Near Raqqa". Voice of America. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  142. ^ Sirwan Kajjo (6 January 2017). "US-backed Forces in Syria Target Strategic IS-held Dam". Voice of America. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  143. ^ "Kurdish-Arab forces seize strategic Syria citadel from IS". Agnce France-Presse. Yahoo! News. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  144. ^ "IS moves prisoners as forces advance on Raqqa". Business Standard. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  145. ^ "Eight villages, five hamlets liberated in Raqqa". Hawar News Agency. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  146. ^ Helicopters bomb Morek and continuous clashes in the countryside Ain Issa and the Syria Democratic Forces advance in the area
  147. ^ "ISIS strategic stronghold was liberated". Hawar News Agency. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  148. ^ The Syria Democratic Forces and US Special forces control a village north of al-Tabaqa and reach the outskirts of the strategic Dam of Euphrates
  149. ^ Violent clashes in several areas near the Euphrates dam in the northern countryside of Al-Raqqah
  150. ^ Although the arrival of Turkish reinforcements to al-Bab and the “Euphrates Wrath” to the outskirts of Euphrates Dam… the “Islamic State” pulls more than 150 of its members towards the “Euphrates State”
  151. ^ "SDF fighters liberate one village, three hamlets in Raqqa campaign". Hawar News Agency. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  152. ^ "The "Islamic State" renews the counterattacks at the northern banks of Euphrates River". SOHR. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  153. ^ Zen Adra (10 January 2017). "Isis fights back US-backed fighters in northern Syria, captures historical castle". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  154. ^ Leith Fadel (10 January 2017). "[Graphic 18+] ISIS claims to have killed 70+ Kurdish fighters in west Raqqa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  155. ^ Claims that Jabar castle (Qal'at Ja'bar) was taken by ISIS is false. SDF is in control of the castle
  156. ^ "Raqqa offensive: Flood fears as SDF forces near Islamic State-held dam". Middle East Eye. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  157. ^ "ISIS attack repelled, 6 hamlets liberated". Hawar News Agency. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  158. ^ "Two SDF fronts meet northwest of Raqqa, continue push for city". Rudaw. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  159. ^ "التقاء المحورين يمهّد لتحرير الطبقة" (in Arabic). Hawar News Agency. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  160. ^ "45 villages, 20 hamlets liberated in Raqqa campaign". Hawar News Agency. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  161. ^ "SDF fighters liberate Odyan village in Raqqa campaign". Hawar News Agency. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  162. ^ Clashes in several areas in the countryside of Al-Raqqah and aerial bombing on the countryside of Hama
  163. ^ SDF progressing to Big Suaydiya village near Tabqa Dam Syria Live Map. 15 January 2017
  164. ^ "The "Islamic State" organization is trying to regain areas they lost within the "Euphrates Wrath" operations". SOHR. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  165. ^ "ISIS attack thwarted in al-Raqqa". Hawar News Agency. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  166. ^ "Syria Democratic Forces advance in the countryside of Al-Raqqah and continuous clashes in several areas". SOHR. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  167. ^ "قصف جوي يستهدف الباب واشتباكات عند الضفاف الشمالية لنهر الفرات" (in Arabic). SOHR. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  168. ^ https://en.hawarnews.com/raqqa-tribes-declare-support-for-sdf/
  169. ^ https://twitter.com/AfarinMamosta/status/821391559350423553/photo/1
  170. ^ "Violent clashes in the northern countryside of al-Tabaqa and shells target al-Fu'aa". SOHR. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  171. ^ "Kurdish-led SDF repel aggressive ISIS attack". Rudaw. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  172. ^ Siber Haci (20 January 2017). "ISIS attacks YPG security centre west Raqqa, scores of Kurdish fighters killed". ARA News. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  173. ^ Paul Antonopoulos (19 January 2017). "ISIS attacks YPG security center near Raqqa, many casualties reported". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  174. ^ "The Syria Democratic Forces achieve a new advancement in the countryside of Al-Raqqah and shelling renewed on the Eastern Ghouta". SOHR. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  175. ^ "The Syria Democratic Forces and US Special Forces carry out an offensive to secure their advancement towards the strategic Dam of Euphrates near al-Tabaqa". SOHR. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  176. ^ "SDF forces expel ISIS from strategic town near Raqqa, advance towards Tabqa Dam". ARA News. 23 January 2017. 
  177. ^ "SDF supported by US soldiers entered Swediya Kabira town after clashes against Daesh 3km far from Euphrates dam West Raqqa". Syria Live Map. 21 January 2017. 
  178. ^ "Local civilian council to run post-ISIS Raqqa: Kurdish official". ARA news. 14 November 2016. 
  179. ^ "US facilitating joint talks with Turkey, Syrian Kurdish forces to ease tension". Hurriyet Daily News. 9 December 2016. 
  180. ^ Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive and in charge, says Pentagon
  181. ^ "ISIS 'war committee' member killed in airstrike near Raqqa". Rudaw. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  182. ^ a b c "After the assassination of al-Omrani, IS starts another execution campaign". SOHR. 8 January 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  183. ^ Laila Majdalawi (16 January 2017). "Three Malaysian ISIS jihadists killed in Raqqa airstrike". ARA News. 

External links

  • Interactive Syria and Iraq map with current Ar-Raqqah situation

Coordinates: 35°57′00″N 39°01′00″E / 35.9500°N 39.0167°E / 35.9500; 39.0167

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