Beirut- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched on Sunday an operation dubbed “Wrath of the Euphrates” to seize the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.
Turkish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the decision to launch this battle was taken two weeks ago in conjunction with the Mosul battle, ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq. “The preparation for it was coordinated with the U.S.,” added the sources.
Sources stated that the Raqqa battle has always been on the to-do list of the U.S.-led International Coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces but holding discussions beforehand was a necessary step.
The assault on Raqqa occurred two days after the Iraqi forces advanced on Mosul in a largescale offensive that was launched three weeks ago with the support of the U.S-led International Coalition airstrikes.
Ash Carter, the U.S. secretary of defense, warned on Sunday that the fight to wrest control of Raqqa will not be easy. “The effort to isolate and ultimately liberate Raqqa marks the next step in our coalition campaign plan,” Carter said in a statement.
Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama’s envoy for the U.S.-led International Coalition against the militant group, said: “The fight against ISIS is not going to be easy, yet the size of ISIS-ruled territory is declining. The battle in Raqqa against ISIS commenced with the support of the U.S.-led International Coalition and we will not permit this group to expand.”
Washington from its part announced that the operation aiming at isolating Raqqa, controlled by ISIS since 2014, kicked off.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the SDF succeeded in wresting control over six sites in Raqqa’s northern countryside. Since its establishment in 2015, the SDF has purged several regions from ISIS.