Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Battle to Retake Raqqa Syria From ISIS Is Being Led By A Kurdish Woman, Jihadis, Erdoğan Not Pleased

From the Independent, May 28, 2016:

Rojda Felat: The feminist taking on Isis
'We are not weak any more. Women are playing a vital role in leading and managing the society'
A Kurdish woman who has been fighting extremists for three years is spearheading the assault on Isis’ self-declared Syrian capital, Raqqa.

Rojda Felat is the joint commander of an offensive by Kurdish and Syrian rebels on the city - which has been the de-facto capital of the so-called Islamic State since 2014.
In her thirties, she heads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made up of around 15,000 Kurdish and Arab fighters, who receive training and support from the US-led coalition. Their aim is to “liberate Syrians from Isis oppression”.

“The Raqqa Liberation Brigade and Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) forces will accompany SFD during the campaign,” Commander Felat said in a statement.
“The campaign is aimed at repelling terrorist attacks on Shadadi, Tal Abyad and Kobani, ensuring the security of our people.”

A radical activist, Commander Felat says she is inspired by Bismarck, Napoleon and Saladin as well as women, such as Arin Markin who blew herself up rather than face capture by Isis during the defence of the Kurdish town Kobanu in 2014.

She told The Times: “My main goal is liberating the Kurdish woman and the Syrian woman in general from the ties and control of traditional society, as well as liberating the entirety of Syria from terrorism and tyranny.”

“My strong beliefs and honest goals help me overcome any obstacles or challenges. The state of weakness that the woman in Rojava [a Kurdish-held territory] and Syria had experienced has gone now. We are not weak any more. Women are playing a vital role in leading and managing the society.”

Previously, Commander Felat has been involved in battles in Hasakah province and for the town of Shadadi in an operation called Wrath of Khabur.
The town took three days to liberate, Salah Jamil, a member of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) told Middle Eastern Eye.

"The Yazidi girls were sold at the Shadadi market, and... we took revenge for them,” Jamil added.
Female fighters are a key part of the offensive against Isis and there are understood to be more than 10,000 women fighting in both all-female and mixed Kurdish battalions.

A 21-year-old commander, from the Women's Protection Units, a faction of the YPG, told CNN: "They believe if someone from [Isis] is killed by a girl, a Kurdish girl, they won't go to heaven. They're afraid of girls."...MORE
From al-Jazeera, Nov. 7:

Erdogan: Syrian Kurd forces used to take Raqqa 'naive'
Turkish President Erdogan challenges US support for Kurdish fighters in operation to seize Raqqa from ISIL.

Turkey's president said on Monday it is "naive" to use Syrian Kurdish fighters - whom he branded terrorists - to retake the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group's stronghold of Raqqa.
Fighters aligned with the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently pushing ahead in an offensive towards ISIL's so-called capital in northern Syria.

"No one in the world will buy this naive attitude of [attacking] Daesh with another terror organisation," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.

Erdogan called the Syrian Kurdish groups fighting against ISIL "a side branch" of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and criticised the United States, a NATO ally, for supporting such groups.

PKK, an armed group that has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, is categorised as a "terrorist organisation" by the US, the European Union and Turkey.

'Raqqa an Arab city'
"The use of non-Arab forces to liberate Raqqa will not contribute to peace," Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also said on Monday.

Turkey would not like to see "Raqqa, which is an Arab city in its entirety, to be captured by elements that are not Arabs and to be administered by them," Kurtulmus said after a cabinet meeting in Ankara....MORE
And from theCanary (UK), Nov. 7:

This woman is leading efforts to send ISIS to hell, but Turkey has other plans
 This woman is leading efforts to send ISIS to hell, but Turkey has other plans
The main assault on the Daesh (Isis/Isil) capital of Raqqa is now underway. And women are at the forefront of the battle.

The feminist commander
Using the code-name “Wrath of the Euphrates”, the group leading the offensive is the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces). And Commander Rojda Felat (the woman pictured above) is one of those leading the charge.

Daesh fighters believe that if they die at the hands of a woman, they won’t go to heaven. So with Felat and other women on the frontlines in the battle for Raqqa, they’d better prepare for hell....
...Turkey and the US at odds over the SDF’s role in fighting Daesh
The SDF is led by the gender-egalitarian, secular and largely-Kurdish YPG [People’s Protection Units] and YPJ, which are the defence militias of the multicultural and directly democratic cantons of Rojava in northern Syria. Kurds currently make up around 70% of the SDF forces in the Raqqa assault, but Arabs could make up to 40% when other anti-Daesh groups join the battle.
Turkey insists that the attack on Raqqa should exclude all Kurdish forces. It wants only the Arab and Turkmen sections of the SDF to take Raqqa. But the US has reportedly made it clear that the Kurds will remain a part of the main ground force in the offensive.

In Turkey, there is an the ongoing purge of the press, academics, the judiciary, and political opponents. After the recent arrests of opposition politicians from the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), there were a number of criticisms from Europe. In a televised speech on 6 November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he didn’t care whether Europe regarded him as a dictator or not....MORE