Syrian Kurds Launch Offensive North of ISIS Capital of Raqqa

Claim 30,000 Fighters in Push to Capture City

by Jason Ditz, May 24, 2016

Backed by US airstrikes, the Kurdish YPG is launching an offensive against territory north of Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS caliphate, and while the Kurds didn’t specifically mention any such intention, Western officials are presenting it as a push against Raqqa itself.

The YPG’s “Syrian Democratic Forces” umbrella claimed some 30,000 fighters are involved in the new offensive, though they said it was targeted at “liberating” some villages near Raqqa as well as reversing ISIS offensives against some Kurdish-held cities nearby.

Pentagon spokesmen, however, claimed that ISIS has only around 3,000 to 5,000 fighters in all of Raqqa, so if the Kurds really do have a ten-fold statistical advantage, it stands to reason they might extend the offensive to the capital itself.

Both the US and Russia are said to have “signed off” on the new offensive, though it will likely draw the ire of Turkey, which has repeatedly condemned previous Kurdish offensives in Syria, particularly those that are aimed at ISIS-held territory near the border.

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