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Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:46 am

Here we will be posting on the up and coming massacre of people in Raqqa, along with the slaughter of many THOUSANDS of innocent pets and wildlife. The destruction of homes and businesses :((

Operation to liberate Raqqa city will start in few days: Kurdish official

he US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prepare to launch a major operation aimed at liberating Raqqa city from ISIS militants. The key operation will start in a few days, the official spokesman of the Kurdish Peope’s Protection Units (YPG) said on Saturday.

The YPG is a leading force within the US-backed SDF.

The Syrian Democratic Forces have recently imposed a heavy siege on the ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqa, after liberating its countryside in a military campaign launched last November.

The assault on Raqqa is expected to put a greater pressure on the ISIS’s self-proclaimed Caliphate, as the group has been facing a heavy defeat in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

“The forces reached the outskirts of the city, and the major operation will start in the coming few days,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS, Colonel Ryan Dillon, said the SDF were “advancing closer and closer every day”, having moved to within 3 km (less than two miles) of Raqqa to the north and east.

“To the west, the SDF were less than 10 km (six miles) away,” Col. Dillon said.

“The battle will not be easy,” Mahmoud said. “Of course (ISIS) has tunnels, mines, car bombs, suicide bombers, and at the same time it is using civilians as human shields.”

After the fall of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria will be ISIS’s last major foothold in Syria and Iraq.

The United States has begun sending small arms to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State (ISIS) group in northern Syria, despite concerns from NATO-ally Turkey.

The Pentagon confirmed that the weapons shipments began ahead of an upcoming offensive to recapture Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in northern Syria.

“We have begun to transfer small arms and vehicles to the Kurdish elements” of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said on Tuesday.

The weapons sent to the SDF’s Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) include AK-47s and small-calibre machine guns, Rankine-Galloway added.

The Pentagon said then that the YPG are “the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future”.

The progress comes as part of the US-backed Euphrates Wrath Operation to liberate Raqqa province from ISIS jihadists.

On 13 April, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the fourth phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation against Islamic State’s extremists to clear out the northern countryside of Raqqa.

During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, which began on November 6, 2016, the SDF liberated roughly 560 km² in Northern Raqqa.

On 10 December, 2016, the SDF launched the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath, during which it captured over 2500 km² in Western Raqqa.

On 4 February, 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation, and liberated dozens of villages in Eastern Raqqa from ISIS jihadists.

The campaign is ultimately aimed at liberating the city of Raqqa from ISIS extremists.

http://aranews.net/2017/06/operation-li ... -official/

YET MORE LIBERATED CORPSES X(
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Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:46 pm

Raqqa battle: 'Staggering' civilian toll in strikes on IS

UN war crimes investigators say US-led coalition air strikes on Islamic State militants in the Syrian city of Raqqa are causing "staggering loss of life".

Hundreds of civilians are reported to have been killed since March, as coalition warplanes support an offensive by a Kurdish-led alliance.

In the past week, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters have pushed into the west, east and north of Raqqa.

The battle for the city has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes.

The coalition has said the capture of Raqqa will deliver a "decisive blow" to the caliphate proclaimed by IS in June 2014, months after it took control or the city.

Up to 4,000 militants are believed to be holed up inside Raqqa, including foreign fighters and various senior figures.

It is unclear how many civilians are trapped there with them, but UN officials estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000.

In an address to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, the chairman of the independent commission of inquiry for Syria noted that IS had been losing territory at a rapid pace in the north and centre of the country over the past few months.

If successful, Paolo Pinheiro said, the SDF offensive on Raqqa "could liberate the city's civilian population from the group's oppressive clutches, including Yazidi women and girls, whom the group has kept sexually enslaved for almost three years as part of an ongoing and unaddressed genocide".

But he added that the offensive must not be "undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where [IS] is present".

"We note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced."

The UK-based monitoring group Airwars estimates that more than 600 civilians were killed in more than 150 coalition or SDF attacks between March and May.

Yet more liberated corpses

Air and artillery strikes killed dozens more in the first eight days of June, it says.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on Thursday that the assault was intensifying an "already desperate" situation in Raqqa.

Air strikes, shelling and clashes on the ground were killing and injuring civilians, and damaging key infrastructure, it said. There were also reports of increased shortages of essential commodities such as food, medicine and fuel, it added.

Mr Pinheiro also expressed deep concern that the creation of "de-escalation" zones in western Syria - agreed earlier this year as part of a plan sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran - had not led to improved access for aid agencies.

So far this year, he said, only one UN convoy had been permitted access to an area identified as urgently in need of assistance.

The UN investigators were also alarmed at the increasing number of "evacuation agreements" in which civilians are being moved out of some besieged areas.

They said some of the evacuations might amount to war crimes because they appeared "primarily motivated by the strategic considerations of the warring parties that negotiate them" and generally did not take the wishes of civilians into account.

Separately, Human Rights Watch warned that the coalition's use of artillery-delivered white phosphorus in Raqqa and in the last remaining IS-held parts of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul was endangering civilians.

White phosphorus can be used for several purposes on the battlefield - as a smoke screen, for signalling and marking, and as an incendiary weapon.

However, international law prohibits its use in civilian areas because of its indiscriminate effects. On contact, it can burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone.

"No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm," warned Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40271450
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:23 am

As civilians flee Raqqa fighting, UN refugee agency urges sustained access

As fighting in and around the Syrian city of Raqqa continues to take a toll on civilians and displaces thousands every day, the United Nations refugee agency has called for greater and sustained access to that it can reach those in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) overland access to more than 430,000 estimated to be in need across the larger Raqqa governorate remains either cut off or extremely difficult, resulting in need airlift supplies – a costly and complex undertaking.

“With partners we continue to explore all possible supply routes and are working with the authorities to secure greater access to those in need,” Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the UN agency said earlier this week.

However, the situation on the ground is complicated by the number of locations where those fleeing the fighting are taking shelter and the sheer number of new displacements. Last month alone, at least 100,000 people left their homes in search of safety.

Many have been displaced more than once, and tens of thousands are passing through camps or transit sites and quickly moving on to other areas or returning to their places of origin.

According to Mr. Mahecic, levels of humanitarian access vary for security and logistical reasons.

For example, UNCHR has been able to have regular access to the Mabrouka camp in Hassakeh, where approximately 1,700 people have taken shelter. But the situation is at the Ein Issa camp is much worse.

Located to the north of Raqqa City and housing about 9,000 people, Ein Issa is over five hours by road from UNHCR’s office in Qamishli – where the agency’s Raqqa response is coordinated from and where the supplies are brought in by air – and access remains extremely challenging.

Needs in other areas where significant numbers of those displaced are residing is being assed, noted the UNHCR spokesperson.

“In the coming days and weeks, UNHCR along with our partners will continue to provide help for those in need and to step up our response where access and security conditions allow,” he added.

On top of access challenges, humanitarian agencies also have to contend with extremely hazardous conditions as a result of conflict and dangers such as mines and unexploded ordnance.

“Funding is not keeping up with needs on the ground,” said the UNHCR spokesperson, noting that the agency urgently requires $37 million to continue to respond to fresh displacement.

The inter-agency Raqqa response plan which includes UNHCR and other UN agencies, also remains severely underfunded, having received only $29 million (less than 20 per cent) of the $153 million needed.

“It is vital to have access, resources and security to continue responding to this latest wave of displacement and suffering to hit already beleaguered and terrified civilians,” underscored Mr. Mahecic.

http://aranews.net/2017/06/civilians-fl ... ed-access/
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:11 pm

GRAPHIC:
Dead Kurdish fighters dragged through the streets of Raqqa after ISIS counter-attack

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:00 P.M.) – US allies have sustained heavy casualties in Raqqa city this week. According to Amaq Agency, upwards of 53 casualties were inflicted on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) over the past 24 hours alone.

With ISIS luring the largely Kurdish SDF into an attritional battle for Raqqa, jihadist militants managed to retake parts of the Al-Bitani and Al-Sinaa neighborhoods in eastern Raqqa along with the southern sector of the Division 17 Army Base on Wednesday. Two suicide bombings were reported amid the large-scale ISIS counter-attack.

Subsequently, ISIS dragged the corpses of Kurdish combattants through downtown Raqqa, likely to install fear in locals and deter them from cooperating with the US-led coalition:

However, the SDF still holds the upper hand in the battle for Raqqa despite temporal setbacks. Over a handful of Raqqa neighborhoods have fallen into Kurdish hands already.

Link to GRAPHIC photos:

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/gr ... er-attack/
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:19 pm

The Guardian view on the fall of Raqqa: the deadliest phase

The noose is tightening around Islamic State at a time when the Middle East is in tumult. Miscalculations or accidental incidents could easily spark a wider conflagration, whose spiralling effect no one could then control

The rush to Raqqa, Islamic State’s capital on the banks of the Euphrates in Syria, marks the beginning of a new and perilous phase in one of the world’s most dangerous battle zones. The capture of the capital of Isis’s self-declared caliphate would be partly symbolic – the end of a fountainhead of terror – and partly material: Raqqa would provide a treasure trove of information about the workings of Isis. What is clear is that when Isis is routed, there’s a race to control vacated territory. The jostling between forces means care is required to ensure trigger-happy troops on the ground or in the air do not allow impatience to cloud good judgment.

Syria is a battlefield between a regime and an armed opposition, regional powers, Russia and the west. And it is entering an ominous phase in the almost six-year-old, multifaceted and evolving war that has devastated an entire country. Of the many battles between proxies, perhaps the most worrying are the clashes between forces supported by the US along with its coalition partners, and Iranian-backed groups acting in support of the Assad regime – with Russia as a powerful ally. And there are signs that five months into Donald Trump’s presidency, the risk of an overt confrontation between the US and other actors grows day by day.

On Monday, in response to the downing of a Syrian government fighter-bomber by the US, Russia announced that, for the first time in the conflict, it would treat any coalition plane or drone flying west of the Euphrates as a “target”. Pentagon officials said they’d acted in “self-defence”, after Assad forces had attacked US-supported Syrian and Kurdish fighters heading for Raqqa. Whether a bluff or not, the Russian warning marked an escalation in an already tense standoff.

Today it was reported that a Russian fighter jet came within five feet of a US warplane over the Baltic Sea. Another unprecedented and equally worrying development came when Iran fired seven cruise missiles into Isis-controlled eastern Syria on Sunday, in retaliation for attacks on the Iranian parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini. This has to be set beside the fact that US forces have twice in 12 days shot down Iranian-made armed drones. Competition has intensified among the key actors: what will a post-Isis Syria look like? Who will dominate it? The dynamics at work are a recipe for more, not less, violence.

The Assad regime hopes to make use of its Iranian and Russian backers to recapture territories that revolted against it in 2011, and on whose populations it has unleashed untold levels of violence. Moscow and Tehran must be held responsible for their role in the human catastrophe of the Syrian conflict, where an estimated 400,000 people have been killed since 2011. And the manifest absence of a coherent US strategy for Syria’s future after Isis should not be overlooked. President Trump offers little vision, preferring to let his generals drive the agenda. US airstrikes, causing severe casualties among civilians, have failed to dispel this indifference. And, while there is no clear plan for Syria, the Trump administration has adopted a more aggressive approach to Iran, and has reportedly considered seeking to break Moscow’s military and diplomatic alliance with Tehran to end Assad’s war.

The Syrian imbroglio has to be seen in the light of regional realignments. Earlier this week the Iraqi prime minister, a key ally of Iran, was in Riyadh in an effort to foster reconciliation. Saudi Arabia and Israel are planning trade talks, and attempts by Gulf Sunni monarchies to isolate Qatar, a backer of the Arab spring movements, saw Turkey say it would airlift troops to the wealthy emirate for war games. Such tumult increases the chances that miscalculations or accidental incidents could easily spark a wider conflagration, whose spiralling effect no one could then control.

These are perilous times. Smart thinking and cool heads are urgently needed on all sides in Syria.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... iest-phase
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:21 am

Raqqa Civilian Council declares Amnesty for 83 ISIS members

The Raqqa Civilian Council, established by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has pardoned 83 captured ISIS fighters, in what it said was a goodwill gesture designed to promote stability as the Kurdish-led SDF troops continue the fight to recapture the city from the radical group.

The council, which is expected to rule Raqqa once ISIS is eliminated in Raqqa, said on Saturday that the pardoned fighters “were low-ranking members and were not involved with violence.”

The youngest of the prisoners pardoned was 14 years old, according to Reuters.They were transported to the headquarters of the Raqqa City Council in the village of Ain Issa, north of Raqqa.

The amnesty coincided with the Eid al-Fitr holiday–marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Raqqa Civilian Council is expected to run post-ISIS Raqqa city. In April, Kurdish feminist Layla Mohammed was appointed as the co-head of the US-backed council, with Mahmoud Shawakh al-Busran as the Arab co-chair.

The council includes members of the Arab tribes, Turkmen, and Kurds.

Fight for Raqqa

Last week, the Syrian Democratic Forces captured al-Baitara district in Raqqa city after clashes with ISIS. The US-backed SDF troops earlier captured the districts of al-Mishlab, al-Sabahiya, al-Romaniya, and Sinaa in Raqqa.

This comes after the SDF launched a major operation to liberate the city of Raqqa from ISIS radicals.

Raqqa has been known as a de facto capital for the ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate since the summer of 2014.

On June 6, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the official start of the battle for Raqqa city.

The Kurdish-Arab-Christian alliance of SDF has been isolating Raqqa since November 2016, when the US-backed alliance launched the so-called Euphrates Wrath Operation.

On 13 April, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the fourth phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation against Islamic State’s extremists to clear out the northern countryside of Raqqa.

During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, which began on November 6, 2016, the SDF liberated roughly 560 km² in Northern Raqqa.

On 10 December, 2016, the SDF launched the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath, during which it captured over 2500 km² in Western Raqqa.

On 4 February, 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation, and liberated dozens of villages in Eastern Raqqa from ISIS jihadists.

The campaign is ultimately aimed at liberating the city of Raqqa from ISIS extremists.

http://aranews.net/2017/06/raqqa-civili ... s-members/
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