Women fighters Celebrate in Raqqa free from ISIS

YPJ women fighters in Raqqa Liberation

by Sara A de Ceano Vivas main photos by: Sara A de Ceano Vivas

On 19 October, the liberation of the city of Raqqa, former capital of the EI (Islamic State) in Syria, was announced.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters ride atop military vehicles as they celebrate victory in Raqqa, Syria, October 17, 2017.

The official statement was made by YPJ spokeswoman Nisrin Abdullah in Al-Naim Square, where the EI committed mass executions to spread terror to both Syria and the world. Nisrin Abdullah stated:

“On this day of happiness, we all want to announce the release of the city of Raqqa, ex-capital of the EI, in congratulations to Abdullah Öcalan, Syria and all women.”

Villages captured from ISIS have been handed over to local administration

The square was flooded with color and smiles, dozens of YPJ (Women’s Defense Forces), QSD (Syrian Democratic Forces), YJS (Shengal Women’s Units) and Christian Defense Forces have celebrated the liberation .

WHAT NEXT FOR RAQQA. There are problems. Most of the city is destroyed by US bombing with residents in surrounding refugee camps, and winter closing in. Heads of the majority Sunni tribes haven’t all yet joined the new Raqqa Civil Council, seeing it as Kurdish led, and could in future support a return of Assad’s Arab state. The US supports the Raqqa Council in theory but not the Confederal Revolution it could become part of.

But the triumph of these women not only involves the expulsion of the EI from the largest city in northern Syria, but also implies a breakthrough in the liberation of all women in the Middle East.

see also … SDF Women aim to Send ISIS back to Hell in Raqqa

The women of Syria have demonstrated with the victory of this battle that their determination can push back the largest religious extremist group in the world, who are willing to walk towards independence of their lives, to fight for a more just and democratic system for all women.

YPG medic volunteers

After 135 days of hard fighting inside the city, the fighters of the different groups gathered to celebrate the victory, the dances were the protagonists of the celebration to the son of the most popular revolutionary songs.

There was also a display of the militia fighting tanks as well as a parade of the YPJ and DSF female forces. Nisan, a Dafa fighter from the city of Derbiesiye, commented: “Today we celebrate the liberation of Raqqa and the freedom of women and for this we are very happy. Victory!”.

British fighter Kimmy Taylor, known in YPJ as Zilan, has also participated in the celebration of the city she has helped to liberate.Fighters from the YPJ (Women’s Defense Units) dance in “paradise plaza” after announcing the release of Raqqa from daesh control.

 DWI spokeswoman for the operation of the Euphrates Wrath, Cihan Sheikh Ehmed, announced that she has already commenced cleaning operations to search for possible EI hideouts as well as the deactivation of demining throughout the city.
Foreign volunteers joined the SDF and many died resisting ISIS

The intention is to control the return of civilians to avoid possible incidents with mines, as they are the leading cause of death for both combatants and civilians.

see also… Raqqa Civilian Council calls for aid for 100,000 IDPs from ISIS-held areas

But Raqqa is not the end of the war against the EI, the fighting continues to the south, making the city of Deir Ezzor. Likewise, the new system implemented in northern Syria faces other threats, such as a possible attack by Turkey on the Afrín region, as well as the continued exclusion of political representatives in the peace talks between the Baath party regime and the so-called rebel groups of the FSA.

SO WHERE DOES THE SDF GO FROM HERE?? Having mushroomed incredibly within just 24 months of being organised by the Rojava YPG/YPJ Kurdish militias to  over 80,000 fighters in October 2017, the SDF needs time to consolidate, defend their spectacular gains, promote the Democratic Confederalist alternative and prove themselves a Revolutionary non-Kurdish controlled civil force.

Now the debate is whether pursuing the Deir ez-Zor offensive against ISIS all the way to the Iraqi border is ‘a bridge too far’,  using US air support and armaments in a dangerous competition with the Russian backed Syrian Army .

A better alternative for the SDF might be to reject the US advice,  return to Manbij, defend Afrin, confront al-Qaida in Idlib  and set about the popular cause of expelling Turkish troops and their mercenaries from the Al Bab  and Jarablus area. (However 800 local ‘Syrian Elite’ fighters in Deir ez-Zor have just defected to the SDF coalition with the aim of liberating the whole governate from ISIS).

Current military situation. Wikipedia Oct 22 2017: Red: Syrian Arab Republic, Green: Syrian opposition and “safe zone“, Yellow: Rojava and SDF), Grey: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,
White: Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as the al-Nusra Front) Blue: Turkey and mercenaries
For a more detailed, up-to-date, interactive map, see Template:Syrian Civil War detailed map.


Kurdish feminist appointed as co-head of Raqqa civilian council


Layla Mohammed was named as the co-head of the Raqqa civilian council. Photo: ANHA

 Kurdish feminist Layla Mohammed was appointed as the co-head of the US-backed Raqqa civilian council, with Mahmoud Shawakh al-Busran as the Arab co-chair.

At just 27, Layla Mohammed was the first woman to rule over Tel Abyad town, where she was born. In 2006, she studied engineering at the university of Raqqa, but she fled Raqqa in 2013 to Kobani after Raqqa fell to the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front.

Later after Tel Abyad was liberated in June 2015 from ISIS by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), she was appointed as co-chair.

“It’s very strange for people to build a new system after they were suppressed by the [Assad] regime and it was difficult for them to accept the idea of being governed  by a woman,” she said.

“In the past, whether in military, politics, or even on the social side, women were not allowed to participate,” she added.

She was appointed as the co-chair of the Raqqa civilian council, which contains members of the Arab tribes, Turkmen, and Kurds, and was attended by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

“This is a historic step for the people of the region, and a new birth for them,” she said. “We promise to manage Raqqa in an organized way,” she said. “Thanks to the sacrifices of the Syrian Democratic Forces Raqqa will be liberated,” she said, adding that the SDF will hand over the administration to the Civilian Council.

Layla further said that Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen will manage the city and it’s countryside on the basis of ‘coexistence and the brotherhood of peoples.”

The newly elected co-chair said committees were established to carry out the work of the council, but that now the council will focus on the liberated villages of the countryside of Raqqa, and will do the same once Raqqa is liberated.

Layla called on the people of Raqqa to ‘participate in the work of the council to manage the region together.”

“The council members are persons that have earlier fled Tabqa, Raqqa and other areas and came to Rojava, they are highly aware of ISIS oppression against the people in Raqqa, and the fight of SDF against terrorism,” Gharib Hesso, the representative of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Kurdistan Region told ARA News.

“Before Manbij city was liberated, there was also a civilian and military council. Now both councils govern Manbij. Manbij is not inhabited by just Kurds, but also by Arabs, Turkmen, the same in Tal Abyad, and other cities,” he said, adding that the people of Raqqa will govern the city. “The city will be ruled by the newly established institutions according to the will of the people.”

Heybar Othman, a freelance journalist who covers the Raqqa operation for the international media in Syria, told ARA News the aim of creating this council is to establish a democratic administration. “I think in the future they will announce this to be the Euphrates region [canton] and maybe Manbij will be part of this region,” he said.

Civilians of Raqqa Fled from Islamic State as Syrian Democratic Forces Advanced.

However, he said there are some shortcomings in the creation of the council. “The main Arab tribes did not join the council, because they are still afraid of ISIS in the city,” he said. “Also the big Arabic tribes still believe the regime might come back to the city [of Raqqa] one day.”

Othman added that in the future the SDF will extend the Raqqa council and see if the remaining local Arabs will be motivated to join. “For sure they will join the new council. The council will form the bases for the new administration for the city, including security forces, health committees and education. The same happened in Manbij,” he added.

In total, 14 committees are expected to run post-ISIS Raqqa.

In January 2017, the Manbij civilian Council was enlarged to 131 members. The Manbij Civilian Council was formed on 5 April 2016 and took over the city’s administration and countryside after the city was liberated from ISIS in August 2016, in a campaign that took over two months.

“In the future they will increase the number of Raqqa council members to 120,” Othman said.

Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News that the establishment of the Raqqa civilian council is backed by the United States government.

“With the establishment of the Raqqa Council, the SDF continues to faithfully follow the blueprint for post-ISIS stability laid out by the United States for Syria. The Trump administration has made it clear that it agrees with the U.S. military’s vision of supporting councils composed of local notables, supported in security matters by the SDF and the U.S. military,” Heras said.

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.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) female fighters hold their weapons during a graduation ceremony in the city of Hasaka, northeastern Syria, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

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 isolating the ISIS radical group in its de facto capital Raqqa.

In the meantime, the SDF leadership called on the people of Raqqa to cooperate with the Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS, in order to ensure their safety. “Stay away from enemy positions and beware of the enemy’s plans that they will using people as human shields. We pledge to exert all efforts to preserve civilians security and safety.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News (April 2017)

Las combatientes de las YPJ anuncián la liberación de Raqqa: Crónica + Galeria

  • Crónica: Sara A de Ceano Vivas
  • Fotografias: Sara A de Ceano Vivas
Combatientes de las YPJ (Unidades de defensa de la Mujer) bailan en “plaza del paraíso” tras anunciar la liberación de Raqqa del control de daesh.

El 19 de octubre, fue anunciada la liberación de la ciudad de Raqqa, ex-capital del EI (Estado Islámico) en Siria. La declaración oficial ha sido realizada por la portavoz de las YPJ, Nisrin Abdullah, en la plaza Al-Naim, lugar donde el EI cometió ejecuciones en masas para difundir el terror tanto a Siria como al mundo entero. Nisrin Abdullah ha declarado:

“En este día de felicidad, a todos queremos anunciar la liberación de la ciudad de Raqqa, ex-capital del EI, en felicitación a Abdullah Öcalan, a Siria y a todas las mujeres”.

La plaza se inundó de color y sonrisas, decenas de combatientes de las YPJ (Unidades de Defensa de las Mujeres), QSD (Fuerzas Democráticas Sirias), YJS (Unidades de Mujeres de Shengal) y de las fuerzas de defensa cristiana han celebrado la liberación.

Raqqa was recaptured by a unique alliance under the SDF banner

Pero el triunfo de estas mujeres no sólo supone la expulsión del EI de la mayor ciudad del norte de Siria, sino que implica un enorme avance en la liberación de todas las mujeres en Oriente Medio. Las mujeres de Siria han demostrado con la victoria de esta batalla que su determinación puede hacer retroceder al mayor grupo extremista religioso del mundo, que están dispuestas a caminar hacia la independencia de sus vidas, a luchar por un sistema más justo y democrático para todas las mujeres.

Tras 135 días de duros combates dentro de la ciudad, las y los combatientes de los diferentes grupos se congregaron para celebrar la victoria, las danzas fueron las protagonistas de la celebración al son de las canciones revolucionarias más populares.

También hubo un despliegue de los carros de combates de las milicias, así como un desfile de las fuerzas femeninas de las YPJ y QSD. Nisan, combatiente de las QSD, originaria de la ciudad de Derbiesiye, ha comentado: “Hoy celebramos la liberación de Raqqa y la libertad de las mujeres y por ello estamos muy contentas. ¡Victoria!”. La combatiente británica, Kimmy Taylor, conocida en las YPJ como Zilan, también ha participado de la celebración de la ciudad que ha ayudado a liberar.

La portavoz de las QSD para la operación de la Ira del Eúfrates, Cihan Sheikh Ehmed, anunció que ya ha comenzado las operaciones de limpieza, para buscar posibles escondites del EI, así como la desactivación de las minas desplegadas por toda la ciudad. La intención es controlar el regreso de los civiles para evitar posibles incidentes con las minas, pues son la primera causa de muerte tanto para combatientes como para los civiles.

Pero Raqqa no es el fin de la guerra contra el EI, los combates prosiguen al sur, hacía la ciudad de Deir Ezzor. Así mismo el nuevo sistema implantado en el norte de Siria se enfrenta a otras amenzas, como un posible ataque de Turquía a la región de Afrín, así como la continua exclusión de los representantes políticos en las conversaciones de paz entre el régimen del partido Baaz y los llamados grupos rebeldes del FSA.

Raqqa Civilian Council declares Amnesty for 83 ISIS members

Local civilian council to run post-ISIS Raqqa: Kurdish official

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