As Kurdish Forces Advance, Civilians Flee Area Around ISIS Capital of Raqqa

Villagers From Surrounding Area Load Up Trucks, Flee En Masse

As with other major cities, reports out of the ISIS capital of Raqqa indicate that the ISIS forces are trying to prevent a mass exodus of the population as invading forces enter the area. They appear to be having mixed success, particularly in the surrounding area, as villagers make a run north to Kurdish-held Ayn Issa.

Reports out of the area show a lot of the population making its way north in pickup trucks loaded to the brim, while some who didn’t have vehicles just started walking north, farmers driving their sheep with them out of the zone that will soon be invaded by the Kurdish YPG.

The invasion itself is going very slowly, with the first YPG fighters seizing a few villages some 30-40 km away from the city, and not running into much opposition as the ISIS defensive forces are mostly much closer to Raqqa itself.

What fighting has happened is much like the early fighting in Mosul, ISIS suicide car bombings targeting masses of troops to slow their advance. This tactic has also made the YPG forces “jumpy,” and carefully checking the documents of the fleeing civilians.

That could be a problem for some, as many report that ISIS has made a habit of confiscating the identification papers of civilians they accuse of violating Islamic law, and forcing them to take religious reeducation classes before such documents are returned.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of