In US-Backed Kurdish Invasion of Raqqa, Arab Allies Struggle to Find a Role

Kurdish Officials Say Locals Mostly Good for Intelligence

The rebranding of the Kurdish YPG as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was always based, at least in part, on the notion that smaller Syrian Arab factions had joined forces with the Kurds, and is a particularly key point as the YPG, having liberated the whole of Syrian Kurdistan, delve deeper into historically Arab parts of the country.

Yet in the invasion of Raqqa, there is little doubt that the YPG is in all ways the most visible force, and the front line fighters for the US-backed invasion of the city, the ISIS capital. The smaller Foj al-Raqqa, a local Arab group, has struggled to find a role.

It’s not surprising, perhaps. The Foj al-Raqqa are only about 300 fighters, virtually without experience in fighting. Their role in any combat with the seasoned ISIS forces defending the city could never be more than limited.

On the other hand, Kurdish officials say that the group’s status as a mostly local organization does allow them to provide some intelligence on what they should be expected to find on the ground. Still, making this out to be a partnership of equals is clearly untrue, and this is demonstrably a Kurdish invasion.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of