US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria say that major operations to liberate Raqqah from Daesh will begin over the next few days.
“The forces reached the outskirts of the city, and the major operation will start … in the coming few days,” said YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud on Saturday.
The US currently provides air support for members of the SDF — a Kurdish-dominated and anti-Damascus alliance.
The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which Ankara views as a terrorist organization over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The battle will not be easy…Of course Daesh has tunnels, mines, car bombs, suicide bombers, and at the same time it is using civilians as human shields,” added Mahmoud.
Daesh seized Raqqah in 2014, the same year when it started its campaign of terror in Syria. It then proceeded to capture large swathes of Syrian territory.
“Daesh will resist because Raqqah is its capital and if Raqqah goes, that means the entire caliphate is gone,” he added.
A Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) troops walks with his weapon in northern Raqqah province, Syria February 6, 2017.
SDF forces seized Tabqah city, west of Raqqah in May. They have advanced to within several kilometers of the center of Raqqah over the past few months.
A spokeswoman for the Raqqah campaign, Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, also confirmed that the final attack on the city would begin in the “coming few days.”
A spokesman for the US-led forces in Syria said that the SDF have reached within three kilometers of Raqqah from the north and east and within 10 kilometers from the south.
“This advance will allow the SDF to expand its control on the southern banks of the Euphrates River and stabilize the western front of Raqqa before launching the final battle to expel Daesh from the city,” said the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops ride a military vehicle north of Raqqah city, Syria March 8, 2017.
“We’re nearing the major battle,” added Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Different foreign-backed terrorist groups have been wreaking havoc in Syria since 2011.
Over the past few months, Syrian forces have made sweeping gains against Takfiri elements who have lately increased their acts of violence across the country following a series of defeats on the ground.