Raqqa – Hundreds of displaced civilians have arrived in areas recently captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), having fled from the Raqqa’s countrywide. These Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have suffered extreme deprivations.
This internal migration comes just two days after the SDF, a pluralist secular coalition, launched the Euphrates Wrath Operation. The campaign’s ultimate goal is the isolation and capture of Raqqa city – the Islamic State’s (ISIS) de facto capital in Syria.
Civilians in Raqqa countryside have reportedly begun evacuating their villages to avoid being used as human shields by ISIS militants. The SDF has reminded civilians to be cautious as jihadists have a long history of using human shields.
Each IDP has his or her own harrowing story of flight. Those who spoke to ARA News described starvation, fuel shortages and extreme forms of persecution in the would-be Caliphate.
Fatima, a 44-year-old woman from Raqqa, told ARA News: “After violence intensified in our area, we escaped. We came here looking for safety.”
Since the launch of the Euphrates Wrath Operation on Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces have captured 11 villages in an area measuring approximately 15 km².
The SDF General Command told ARA News that ISIS has retreated from major parts of Raqqa’s northern countryside. Rather than trying to stand their ground, the extremist group is now relying on mines, car bombs and suicide squads.
Speaking to ARA News, several SDF officers expressed concern for the endangered civilian population. They believe that the number of displaced civilians may increase dramatically once their fighters push into the Raqqa city.
Khalil Muhammed a 61-year-old IDP from Raqqa, told ARA News: “We thank the SDF for helping us. We’ve arrived at the safe haven now. We have suffered a lot.”