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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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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:53 pm

Why the battle for Raqqa is far from won

But in the town of Ayn Issa, barely 35 miles (56km) north of the front lines, they are already looking at a future post-caliphate.

On Wednesday, Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the coalition fighting the group that calls itself Islamic State (IS), arrived at the headquarters of the Raqqa Civilian Council to meet local leaders-in-waiting.

"There are tremendous challenges ahead," he said.

"The United States is committed to defeating Daesh [IS]. That's why we're here. And we want to make sure that what comes after Daesh is stable.

"And if you look at the record to date, coalition-backed operations in Iraq and Syria have cleared out about 60,000 sq km of territory. We've liberated over four million people."

Mr McGurk's presence in Ayn Issa is part of a growing engagement from the US, which is backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters leading the assault on Raqqa.

As they advance into the city, families are fleeing. Many end up in a camp on the outskirts of Ayn Issa. Their futures look as uncertain as the future of Syria itself after more than six years of war.

The people now staying in tents until recently lived under the harsh rule of IS. For some, even the heat and the dust feel like respite.

Jihadi wives' corner

But not all the inhabitants of the Ayn Issa camp were in the caliphate against their will.

One corner of the camp is reserved for the wives and children of IS fighters. Perhaps not surprisingly, these people are not popular.

Nour left Lebanon for Raqqa two years ago to join her husband, a jihadi. When he was killed, she married a Tunisian.

And so she joined the ranks of a relatively privileged group: the wives of foreign fighters. She still seems to have little sympathy for the treatment of the thousands of Yazidi sex slaves at the hands of their IS captors.

"There was a lot of tension between the wives and the sex slaves," she said.

"Some of the wives even divorced their husbands because of that. They were spending too much on the sex slaves, buying them the best makeup, clothes and accessories.

"My first husband had an app on his phone. It was a market for sex slaves. They were sharing photos of the sex slaves with the best makeup and clothes, and asking $2,000 [£1,538] for this one, $3,000 for that one. A virgin cost $10,000."

The caliphate may be crumbling but the IS mentality persists.

'Precise and careful'

If the self-declared capital of IS falls, it will be in large part thanks to the support for the SDF from US forces and their international allies, including Britain.

A US military transport plane touches down on a dirt runway carved discreetly into a hillside. This is the main logistics hub for the American effort in northern Syria.

From this base, they support their own forces and arm the SDF.

The US has been reluctant to publicise its presence in Syria. Their troops number in the hundreds. They will not say exactly how many.

Their special forces are involved in fighting on the ground while their planes are bombing Raqqa from the sky.


UN war crimes investigators warned earlier this month of "staggering loss of life", with hundreds of civilians killed since March, as coalition air strikes and artillery support the Kurdish-led offensive on the city.

Lt Gen Stephen Townsend, the overall commander of the international coalition against IS in Iraq and Syria, rejected the charge that the US was taking insufficient care in its bombardment.

"I would challenge anyone to find a more precise and careful campaign in the history of warfare on this planet," he told the BBC.

"I think we are being as careful as we need to be and as we can be, and I would challenge the individual from the UN who made this hyperbolic statement that civilian casualties are staggering. Show me some evidence of that."

Common enemy... for now

The American logistics hub in northern Syria is one of a number of US bases in the area. Much of the infrastructure has been put in place in the last six months.

Getting in is often easier that getting out, as the US military discovered in Afghanistan and Iraq. Syria may be no exception.

"ISIS [IS] is certainly not defeated when Mosul is liberated or Raqqa is liberated," says Lt Gen Townsend.

"There is a lot of hard work left to do. Mosul and Raqqa are intermediate objectives on a path to a final victory."

What that final victory might look like is unclear. The end of the caliphate will not mean the end of the war in Syria.

Earlier this month, a US fighter jet shot down a warplane belonging to the Russian-backed regime in Damascus.

For now, Washington and Moscow share a common enemy.

But once IS is gone, two big powers will be left backing different sides in an unfinished war. The potential for confrontation is real.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40451093
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:35 am

Emergency polio vaccinations considered in Raqqa following new report of paralysis

t’s news no one wanted. But the discovery of another Syrian child paralyzed by polio vaccine viruses in rebel-held Raqqa has the World Health Organization and UNICEF in talks with the Syrian government over whether an emergency vaccination effort can be mounted there.

The new case is the second to be documented in Raqqa — part of a larger polio outbreak in Syria that totals 24 cases of paralysis caused by vaccine viruses. The other cases are in Mayadeen district in the Deir-Ez-Zor governorate of eastern Syria.

The new case, however, suggests the outbreak may be spreading in Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State, said Michel Zaffran, director of the WHO’s polio program.

Officials acknowledge carrying out an emergency vaccination effort there could be exceedingly complicated.

“It is still under discussion due to military activity in the area,” Zaffran told STAT in an email.

If it goes ahead, the outbreak response in Raqqa would attempt to vaccinate 120,000 children under the age of 5 with a special formulation of oral polio vaccine. Health officials would also try to vaccinate 44,000 children with injectable polio vaccine, the type used in the United States and other affluent countries.

An emergency vaccination program for Deir-Ez-Zor and in the southern part of Shadadi district in Hasaka governorate
 is set to begin Saturday. Vaccine for that effort is already in Damascus, Zaffran said.

The first round of vaccinations will target 328,000 children in the two governorates. Already 355 vaccination teams and 61 supervisors are on standby to begin the work. Teams will go house to house in some areas and operate from a fixed position in others.

That, at least, is the plan. But the agencies behind the response know that the shifting winds of war in Syria could pose serious challenges for their work. Vaccine refusal has also been a problem in Deir-Ez-Zor in the past, with some parents reluctant to allow their children to be vaccinated, according to an update released Tuesday by the WHO.

The Syrian cases are caused by vaccine-derived polioviruses — viruses from the oral polio vaccine used in some developing countries. The U.S. discontinued use of the oral vaccine in 2000.

Oral polio vaccine is made using live but weakened viruses. The original version contained components to protect against all three polioviruses, types 1 through 3. Type 2 polioviruses stopped circulating nearly 20 years ago and last year that component was removed from the oral vaccine.

The oral vaccine is highly effective but it has some rare and serious side effects. The weakened viruses can spread from a vaccinated child to other children with whom he or she is in contact.

https://www.statnews.com/2017/07/04/syr ... cinations/
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:36 am

The following video was filmed was published on Jun 7, 2017

Secret filming obtained by the BBC offers a rare glimpse of Raqqa, the last stronghold for the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

The city is still open for business, but the threat of danger looms large.

phpBB [video]


Direct Link To Video:

https://youtu.be/rUcD_3xAAPw

Let us see what it looks like after it has been liberated :ymsick:
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:52 am

US-led coalition urges ISIS militants in Raqqa to surrender or die
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

The US-led coalition’s Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said that Islamic State’s (ISIS) militant fighters in Syria’s Raqqa have only one option: surrender or be killed.

“Now, Raqqa is likewise isolated. When we started the assault on the 5th of June, we did not have a complete physical isolation on the ground. But we did have the Euphrates River there that cut off the city to the south. All the bridges are down,” he said about the anti-ISIS efforts by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“All the dams are held by our Syrian partners. And every time we found a boat, we sunk it. So, there was not a good way to get out of Raqqa since the start of the operation,” he told reporters on Tuesday in a press briefing.

However, now SDF forces also physically surround Raqqa city–the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria.

“Now the Syrian Democratic Forces actually linked up on the south side of the city. So, there’s a physical around Raqqa now preventing escape or reinforcement. This is our tactic here. We’re not trying to let anybody out,” he said.

“I already mentioned the surrender offer of some of the remaining fighters in Mosul. There’s no negotiation… if you want to surrender, then come out with your hands up. I think we’ll pursue a similar outcome in Raqqa,” he said. “Their options are to surrender or be killed.”

The city of Raqqa was completely surrounded 37 days after the US-backed SDF troops launched an assault to liberate Raqqa on 5th of June.

“About one week ago, with coalition assistance, the SDF breached into the ancient citadel of Old Raqqa in the central part of the city. We should not forget that ISIS has had more than three years to prepare the defense of Raqqa,” the US Army General said.

“While SDF operations are off to a good start, resistance has been stiffening, and we know this is not going to be an easy fight. We said that about Mosul, but many seem to be surprised when it turned out to be true,” he added.

Furthermore, Gen. Townsend said there will be no need for expanding support for the SDF forces.

“I don’t really think you’ll see a great expansion of our efforts against Raqqa. We already have a very robust effort to support our Syrian partners in their assault on Raqqa,” he said.

“I think what we will probably see, it would be a greater level of resourcing, possibly some more ISR and strike resources. But I don’t think there will be a significant change in the weight of effort. It will become more of a priority now that Mosul is concluded. I think that’s right, being as it’s the global capital of the Islamic State’s caliphate,” he concluded.

http://aranews.net/2017/07/us-led-coali ... er-or-die/
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:42 pm

Islamic State set oil fields in Raqqa ablaze

The self-proclaimed Islamic State group, on Sunday, set several oil wells ablaze in the southern countryside of Raqqa, after being recaptured by the Syrian regime forces yesterday.

Qasioun News reported that the Islamic State group burned the oil wells and gas lines extended from al-Rasafa area till al-Akrishi village, in the southern countryside of Raqqa.

After invading the city of Raqqa, the radical group captured the oil fields of al-Wahab, al-Fahd, Debisan and al-Kabeer, and the oil wells of al-Qusier, Abu al-Qetat and Abu Katash, in addition to the villages of Mashrafa Anbah, Falah Rajab, Kharbet Muhanad, Souh Albukhamis, Mansoura Shuwaihan, Halima and Somihan, and used them as funding sources.

The Islamic State group managed to capture these areas after the withdrawal of the Syrian rebels early in 2014.

Yesterday, regime forces, backed by foreign militias, managed to recapture several oil fields from the Islamic State group, including Wahib, Fahda and Dubisan oil fields in the western countryside of Raqqa.

http://www.iraqinews.com/arab-world-new ... qa-ablaze/
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:01 am

What will ISIS do as their hold on Raqqa weakens?

The strategy of isolating Raqqa has proven to be militarily efficient, as the areas controlled by ISIS are decreasing each day. As the US administration has declared that their forces will soon carry out military operations inside Raqqa city proper, this raises the question: what are the potential responses that will be taken by ISIS?

First scenario: The Reverse Move – where ISIS fighters will flee the city by taking advantage of the large and difficult to control borders between Syria and Iraq in order to return to strongholds in Iraq.

Second scenario: Hiding – This strategy has been used by ISIS on multiple occasions, both in Manbij and Al-bab, whereby the group’s fighters escaped the city by hiding among fleeing civilians. This happened recently in Mosul as well when ISIS fighters managed to flee the city disguised as civilians.

Third scenario: Escaping to more Stable Areas – During the past few years, ISIS has managed to build relationships with people living in areas of Syria that are more stable. This scenario is the most likely one to be chosen for use by the group at present.

Fourth scenario: Foreign Fighters Return to their Home Countries – This scenario has been used by several terrorist groups that preceded ISIS, such as when hundreds of foreign Al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan went back to their home countries. In ISIS’ case, many foreign fighters have already chosen this option, such as Tunisians involved with the group.

Fifth scenario: Transforming into Dormant Terror Groups aka “Redeployment of Forces” – This method remodels the terrorist group to rely on only engaging in terrorist attacks from time to time. When the battle for Mosul battle was first launched, ISIS declared conducting 157 suicide bombings in Baghdad.

It is noteworthy that most of ISIS leaders have pointed to the possibility of their state collapsing, but noted at the same time that their priority is for their ideology to persist.

In conclusion, all these scenarios are possible, but not definitive.
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:57 am

'Dozens of civilians killed' in Raqqa air strikes

US-led coalition air strikes have killed dozens of civilians in the Syrian city of Raqqa over the past 24 hours, activists and state media say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 42 had died in attacks on areas held by so-called Islamic State.

Anti-IS group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said 32 were killed in one district alone.

The coalition said it adhered to strict targeting processes and procedures aimed to minimise risks to civilians.

Its aircraft are supporting a ground assault on Raqqa by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which is believed to have captured more than than half of the de facto capital of the IS "caliphate" since early June.

The Syrian Observatory, a UK-based group that monitors the six-year-old civil war through a network of sources, said on Tuesday that 19 children and 12 women were among those killed in Monday's air raids on the Sukhani and Badu districts.

The figures took to 167 the number of civilians killed in coalition strikes since 14 August, it said.

[img]https://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/48B3/production/_97411681_iraq_syria_control_14_08_2017_624_16x9_map.png

The tolls are high because the air strikes are hitting neighbourhoods in the city centre that are densely packed with civilians

Hussam Essa of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said: "Unfortunately, civilians have no way to protect themselves. All they can do is try to hide in whatever shelter they can and avoid going out into the street as much as possible."

The coalition said it took all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and assessed those deemed credible, but that those made by the Syrian Observatory in recent days lacked "specificity and detail making it very difficult to properly assess".

"The coalition respects human life and our goal is always for zero civilian casualties," it added. "Coalition forces take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians."

Earlier, it said coalition warplanes had conducted 20 air strikes in the Raqqa area on Monday, engaging 13 IS tactical units and destroying 24 fighting positions, a vehicle, a logistics node and communications infrastructure.

At the start of June, the coalition said its 22,983 air strikes in Syria and Iraq since 2014 had unintentionally killed at least 624 civilians. However, human rights groups believe the true figure is far higher.

Airwars, an organisation that tracks allegations of civilian deaths, said that as of 8 August, coalition air strikes were likely to have killed at least 4,487 civilians.

On Monday, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that it was deeply concerned for the safety of up to 25,000 civilians trapped inside Raqqa, many of them women and children.

Tens of thousands of people had fled the city, but those remaining faced severe restrictions of movement in and out of the city, which had dwindling food and water supplies, he said.

"The UN stresses again that all parties to the fighting are obligated to protect civilians under international humanitarian law, as well as the need for sustained and unhindered access to those who need help," Mr Dujarric added.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-41011868
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:45 am

As the Massacre continues to claim countless civilian lives the UN finally wakes up

UN urges pause in assault on ISIS bastion Raqqa

The UN has urged US-led coalition forces to suspend their assault on Raqqa, the capital of so-called Islamic State in Syria, to permit evacuations.

Up to 25,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in the city which, according to the coalition, has been hit by 250 air strikes in the past week alone.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed since the assault started in June, Amnesty International estimates.
(If organisations admit to there being hundreds of civilian deaths, it is certain the numbers run into the thousands)

IS is accused by the UN and others of using civilians as human shields.

But the number of civilian casualties caused by coalition air strikes appears to have mounted steadily, with dozens killed this week, Syrian opposition sources say.

However, Lt Gen Stephen Townsend, commander of the coalition, said in Baghdad on Tuesday that he had not seen "hard information that says that civilian casualties have increased in Raqqa to some significant degree".

In addition to the air strikes, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance is shelling targets in the city from the ground.

The SDF is believed to have captured more than half the city.

"Worst place on Earth'

"I cannot think of a worse place on Earth now," Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian adviser on Syria, said in Geneva.

"People that come out cannot risk [being killed by] air raids," he said.

"Now is the time to think of possibilities, pauses or otherwise that might facilitate the escape of civilians."

Any humanitarian pause, he said, would not involve IS which was doing its "absolute best to use [civilians] as human shields".

The UN had no contact with the group, he added. "Inside Raqqa city, on both sides, conditions are very bleak and it is very hard to assist in all areas."

Survivors and witnesses told Amnesty International they faced IS booby traps and snipers targeting anyone trying to flee, as well as a constant barrage of artillery strikes and air strikes, according to the organisation's report.

Civilians in villages and camps south of the River Euphrates had also come under bombardment from Russian-backed Syrian government forces, Amnesty said.

Things will only get more dangerous as the battle reaches its final stages in the city centre," the organisation said.

"More can and must be done to preserve the lives of civilians trapped in the conflict and to facilitate their safe passage away from the battleground."

In Baghdad, Lt Gen Townsend said it was "probably logical to assume that there has been some increase in the civilian casualties" because coalition operations had intensified.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who was visiting troops, said: "We're not the perfect guys. We can make a mistake, and in this kind of warfare, tragedy will happen. But we are the good guys, and the innocent people on the battlefield know the difference."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-41041825
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Raqqa Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:57 am

Fortunately, I am not Christian, Muslim or Jew, all of which I find repugnant with their desire to kill and destroy

I have only one believe:

Do what you will save you hurt none

I believe that EVERYONE responsible for the killing of innocent people should face prosecution in an international criminal court for war crimes
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