An infographic published by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The coalition of brigades taking part in the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) ‘Wrath of Euphrates’ operation to retake Raqqa from ISIS is a mix of ethnicities, religions, and genders.
The SDF published a list of nine forces partaking in the military offensive to oust the extremist group from its de facto capital in Syria. Many of the brigades are from Raqqa.
The Raqqa Falcons Brigade is a Sunni Arab fighters’ brigade that are from Raqqa.
The Ahrar al-Raqqa Brigade is another Arab force from the area that was originally formed to fight against the Syrian regime during the Arab Spring. In March 2016 they joined the SDF.
The Liberation Brigade, Raqqa Martyrs Brigade and Tal Abyad Revolutionaries are three other Arab brigades that are taking part in the operation.
The two Kurdish forces, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), which are considered the backbone of the SDF, will be key forces in retaking Raqqa as well.
The Hamam Turkmen Martyrs Brigade, whose fighters are from Raqqa, is joining the Arab and Kurdish forces. It takes its name from Hamam, a Turkmen village north of Raqqa, close to the border with Turkey.
Though the majority of Raqqa’s population is Muslim, the city has a long Christian history and members of the city’s Christian community, both men and women, have joined the military offensive.
“As Syriac-Assyrian Christians we work with our Kurdish and Arab allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces to liberate Raqqa,” the Syriac Military Council and Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces said in a statement on Monday.
“The fight against terrorism is the fight for existence of our Syriac–Assyrian people and we cannot rest until this fight is won,” the statement continues.
“At the same moment this war against ISIS is a war for all civilization against utter evil. We ask therefore the international community to support us and all Syrian Democratic Forces. Together we fight for freedom and dignity of all peoples.”
“We men and women who protect the oldest Christian community on earth ask the global Christian community to stand up for us and give us political, practical and moral support,” the statement added.
A female SDF commander said on Sunday that the goal of the operation was to evict ISIS from Raqqa. Eighty percent of the 30,000-strong force is made up of locals from Raqqa, the commanders said.
“We in the general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces give you the good news of the launch of our big military offensive to liberate the city of Raqqa and its suburbs from the clutches of the terror forces of the dark world, represented by Daesh [ISIS] which made the city the capital of its self-styled caliphate,” a female commander of the SDF said in a televised statement announcing the launch of the offensive on Sunday.