RAQQA (ANF) – A commander for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Dijwar Serêkaniyê spoke to ANF regarding the third phase of the Operation Wrath of Euphrates to liberate Raqqa.
Serêkaniyê recalled that the circle around ISIS tightened with the liberation of many villages during the first and second phases of the military campaign, noting that in the third phase, their goal was to encircle the ISIS gangs in Raqqa.
Serêkaniyê remarked that several villages have been encircled in the scope of the second step in the third phase of the campaign launched yesterday, and continued: “We are cleansing these villages of ISIS step by step. With this move, we gained more confidence from the people. There is a remarkable increase in the participation of locals in our ranks, both from the lines of Dure and Raqqa. As we make further advances, people are taking their place by our side and lending assistance to our comrades.”
“ISIS TARGETS THE LOCALS TRYING TO REACH US”
Recalling that Wrath of Euphrates fighters are advancing towards Raqqa on three axes, Serêkaniyê said the forces on these three fronts were nearly 30 km away from each other, giving the following details from the ground:
“Those on Mekmen front have advanced 14-15 kilometers since yesterday and the axes are getting closer to one another every day. Some villages are encircled at the moment but they have not been liberated yet. Dozens of villages will have been encircled by the time the forces on three fronts unite. We will liberate these villages then. Security measures have been taken in the liberated villages and residents of these have turned back home. Gangs planted mines across these villages, especially in the houses of residents. We have cleared and defused a large part of these. However, there are still mines to be cleared in some houses and civilian areas. ISIS are using locals as human shields in several villages now. Most of the locals support us and try to reach us, because of which they are attacked and injured by the gangs. We are currently making an effort to reach and save them.”
“WHEREVER WE GO, PEOPLE WANT TO JOIN US”
In all the areas we reach, Arab people, mainly from Shehba and Deir ez-Zor regions, want to join our forces. Deir ez-Zor Military Council has also joined the operation in its third phase. 90 percent of the forces partaking in this campaign at the moment is made up of Arabs. Our people in Derin are comprised of various tribes. There are also many tribes from the Shaddadi region joining the operation with the support of YPG and YPJ forces. Our Arab forces in Kobanê and Cizir cantons are also taking part in this campaign in addition to many other forces that united under the roof of SDF. Our comrades are advancing with a high morale. During this phase of the operation, ISIS will be encircled and the Deir ez-Zor road leading to Raqqa will be cut off. To this end, people of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor are supporting and assisting our forces. The rest also wants to join us with great resolve.”
“PEOPLE SHOULD KEEP AWAY FROM ISIS’ LOCATIONS”
Serêkaniyê remarked that ISIS using locals as human shields caused a slow advance in the military campaign, and warned the people to keep away from the areas where ISIS gangs are present.
“Locals should try to reach the areas liberated by the SDF. Especially the Arab and Kurdish residents in Raqqa should take their place in the ranks of SDF which is the only force to liberate the people. SDF combatants will rescue the peoples from ISIS atrocity and liberate Syria. Everywhere where ISIS gangs are, is a target to us. People should keep themselves away from these areas in order that they are not harmed. These areas are also targeted by international coalition aircraft. We promise our people that we will liberate Raqqa very soon.”