battle to liberate syrias alraqqa from is no more than media campaign
Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Battle to liberate Syria's al-Raqqa from IS no more than "media campaign"

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Battle to liberate Syria's al-Raqqa from IS no more than "media campaign"

Syria's al-Raqqa
Damascus – XINHU

 The recently-declared battle by a U.S.-backed Kurdish rebel group to liberate the Syrian city of al-Raqqa from the Islamic State (IS) group is no more than a "media campaign" timed to coincide with the U.S. presidential elections, analysts here say.

The military campaign launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a propaganda material to boast the electoral campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and to push the IS out of al-Raqqa into a direct confrontation with the Syrian army in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, analysts say.

The SDF, an overwhelmingly Kurdish opposition alliance that includes Arabs, Assyrians, and Turkmen fighters, announced Sunday the beginning of a military campaign against the IS de facto capital of al-Raqqa.

"We in the general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces are breaking the good news to you about the beginning of our major military campaign to liberate the city of al-Raqqa and its countryside from the clutches of the forces of darkness represented by Daesh (IS)," an SDF statement read.

The military campaign, dubbed "The Wrath of Euphrates," started on Saturday evening in cooperation and coordination with the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition, it added.

It said that a joint operations room has been formed to lead and coordinate the campaign for al-Raqqa.

The SDF, meanwhile, urged the regional and international powers that have been affected by the IS to take part in the "honor to eliminate the core of the international terrorism" represented by the IS by providing all kinds of support for the SDF.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said 30,000 fighters with the SDF were taking part in the offensive on al-Raqqa, adding that the SDF captured 10 villages and farmlands in the northern countryside of al-Raqqa.

The UK-based watchdog group, which says it relies on a network of activists on ground, said the initial aim of the battle is to isolate the city of al-Raqqa from its northern and eastern countryside, as a prelude to strip the IS of the city itself.

The attack on al-Raqqa coincides with the major offensive by the Iraqi army and allied fighters as well as the U.S. coalition on the city of Mosul, a major IS stronghold in Iraq.

Hamdi Abdullah, a Syrian political analyst, told Xinhua that the United States is leading the battles in Mosul and al-Raqqa in tandem with the U.S. presidential elections.

"Washington is betting on achieving a swift success in the Mosul and al-Raqqa to boast the election campaign of Clinton, to prove wrong the accusations of her Republican rival, Donald Trump, who accused Clinton of being part in the creation of IS," he said.

Abdullah noted that the battle in Mosul wasn't as successful and quick as planned, due to Washington's lack of seriousness in the battle on IS.

"Washington decided to open the front on IS in al-Raqqa to cover for the lack of progress made in Mosul, but it's not truly a real, or effective battle because the SDF is incapable of liberating all the towns and villages all the way to the city of al-Raqqa," he said, noting that the declared number of SDF fighters engaged in the al-Raqqa battle is exaggerated.

He said the battles that have raged over the past two days in northern al-Raqqa are the kind of "attack and retreat," adding that such battles cannot achieve true progress for the SDF.

Bassam Abu Abdullah, another analyst, also agreed that the battle on IS in al-Raqqa is more propaganda than a real battle on ground.

"It took the Kurdish group three months to liberate the predominantly-Kurdish town of Kobane from IS last year, so how do they talk about liberating al-Raqqa by this group alone? It doesn't add up," he remarked.

Meanwhile, a Syrian activist in the predominantly-Kurdish city of al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria, told Xinhua that the pressure intended on IS in al-Raqqa will push the IS terrorists to move toward the countryside of the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, which will put them in a direct confrontation with the Syrian army.

The activist, who asked not to be named, said putting the Syrian army in another confrontation with IS is one of the goals behind the war on al-Raqqa to put more pressure on the Syrian army.

The SDF move toward al-Raqqa was expected to raise the ire of Turkey, which has recently asked the U.S. to put the offensive on al-Raqqa on hold till the liberation of the battle against IS in its second stronghold in Mosul.

Turkey wanted to lead the offensive on al-Raqqa with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, which it has been backing recently to take areas from IS in northern Syria and cut the road in the face of the SDF advance in northern Syria, near Turkey.

Turkey's main concern is a growing Kurdish influence near its borders, and that was a main point of contention between Washington and Ankara.

Turkish officials repeatedly said they will not liberate al-Raqqa with the help of the SDF.

However, the U.S. coalition spokesman Colonel John Dorrian said recently that the United States was working with the Kurds and Turkey on a game plan for defeating IS in al-Raqqa.

"We're now working with the Turkish military and we're working with our SDF partners to come up with the game plan for the way ahead here," he said.

He added that "there were some challenges between the SDF and the Turkish military for some period of time. We're very glad to see that it's been relatively peaceful between those two. So we've opened lines of communication and coordination to make sure that we de-conflict the things that are going on there."

Analysts believe that the U.S. has reached an agreement with the Kurds and Turkey on splitting the assignment of battling IS, as the Kurds will fight IS in al-Raqqa, while the Turkey-backed FSA will fight IS in the northern countryside of Aleppo province near the Turkish borders, where the FSA was said to have advanced against IS near the key city of al-Bab, a key IS stronghold near Turkey.

Still, the prospect of the war on IS in al-Raqqa and scoring a quick win seems a distant goal, with the lack of enough Kurdish fighters to pull that battle off and the double standards which eclipse the way the U.S. deals with Middle Eastern issues, analysts said.

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battle to liberate syrias alraqqa from is no more than media campaign battle to liberate syrias alraqqa from is no more than media campaign

 



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