11/07/2016, 12.36
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Arab-Kurdish offensive to regain Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa

Kurdish militias and Arab forces, backed by US airstrikes coalition engaged in operations. For Daesh loss of Raqqa (and Mosul) means its end. Raqqa "more complicated" framework than in Mosul. The exclusion of Turkey.


Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Kurdish and Arab militias have launched an operation to capture the city of Raqqathe stronghold of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria since  January 2014. Air US-led coalition raid supporting the ground advance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which, together with Arab ethnic militias, have gained territory in the areas north of the city.

The offensive, which was announced during a press conference held at Ain Issa, about 50 km from Raqqa, began yesterday and is divided into two different phases. The first aims to isolate the city and surround Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic state]. The second step is to clean the city of jihadists.

The start of the offensive against the stronghold in Syria comes three weeks after the start of a similar operation in Iraq, to ​​wrest Mosul from the jihadists.

In a study released by IHS Conflict Monitor shows that, from the beginning of the year, Daesh has lost at least 16% of its territories and more than a quarter compared to January 2015. A possible defeat of the jihadists in Raqqa (and Mosul) would mean the end of the so-called "Caliphate".

The military operation against Raqqa, called "Wrath of the Euphrates", involves about 30 thousand fighters. In addition there are about 50 American war experts, with the task of guiding and coordinating air strikes.

Since its capture by the Islamic state, Raqqa (such as Mosul) has been the scene of some of the worst atrocities committed by jihadists from stoning to beheadings, trafficking of sex slaves to the burning of prisoners of war.

The US-led international coalition is taking part in both the offensive against Mosul, and the Raqqa assault. However, analysts and military policy experts point out the profound differences of the two operations. After five years of war, which has caused 300 thousand deaths (430 thousand according to other sources) and millions refugees, Syria is fragmented among the various actors in the field: forces loyal to President Assad, rebel militias, the opposition forces and jihadist groups, including IS.

In addition, the coalition is engaged in the advance against Mosul in support of the Iraqi government. The situation in Syria is different, where much of the West and the Arab world is in open opposition to President Assad in Damascus.

Turkey, which borders the north of Syria, is not taking part in the offensive against the IS stronghold. The Syrian Democratic Forces have "agreed" with Washington that "there will be no role for Turkey or its allied forces' in the operation in Raqqa.

Ankara considers Kurdish militias committed on Syrian soil a hostile force because of their links to the PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party banned in Turkey because it is considered a terrorist organization.

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