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The Battle To Retake The ISIS Capital Has Begun

REUTERS/Rodi Said

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the start of an operation to retake the de facto Islamic State capital city Saturday.

The operation, code named “Operation Wrath of Euphrates” includes some 30,000 troops, with 25,000 coming from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). U.S.-led air strikes will support SDF’s advance.

“On this occasion, we assure the democratic forces in the world, our great Syrian people and peoples of the region that this operation will be proceeded strictly till its goal is met in isolating the capital of world terror, then bringing it down,” said the spokesperson, speaking from the operation’s war room 30 miles outside of Raqqa in the Syrian city of Ain Issa.

The spokesperson called upon every nation that has suffered under ISIS to join the operation and encouraged humanitarian groups to prepare help for the citizens of Raqqa. Turkish forces will not participate in the operation, despite having done so in the past, as it considers the YPG a terrorist organization.

ISIS declared Raqqa its de facto capital during the terrorist group’s rise in 2014. Coalition air strikes targeted ISIS elements in and around the city several times since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-backed mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Operation Wrath of Euphrates is the second major operation against ISIS strongholds this month. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) declared the start of their mission to retake Mosul, ISIS’s de facto capital in Iraq, in October. The ongoing mission has been successful thus far, with ISF forces breaking through the city limits Tuesday.

ISIS will most likely engage in a guerrilla campaign to defend the city by deploying suicide bombers, car bombs, human shields and booby traps. The operation to retake Raqqa will undoubtedly be one of the most difficult yet, but the successful capture of the city will undoubtedly be a major step in destroying ISIS’s so-called state.

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