Rojda Felat, a Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) commander leading the “Wrath of Euphrates Operation” to liberate Raqqa, the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) group’s self declared capital in Syria, has said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have achieved significant victories in the 2nd phase of the operation, which began on 11 December 2016.
The YPJ-SDF commander spoke to Hawar News Agency (ANHA) about recent developments and said the jihadist group would be defeated in 2017.
Could you inform us about the ongoing battles in the operation to liberate Raqqa?
The Wrath of Euphrates campaign, which began 25 days ago, started from two points-axis: al-Qaderiyah and Tel Samin. Our forces in Tel Samin have progressed 12 km so far and are in high spirits and have great determination to liberate the city from ISIS.
Until now we have not faced any great obstacles in our progress. The [ISIS] mercenaries could not withstand our fighters’ resistance, so they resorted to digging trenches, deploying mines, bombing houses and have even tried to hold their ground by sending -every now and then- bomb-laden vehicles; however all their attempts have failed in the face of the resistance of SFD fighters. A very large amount of arms and ammunition and the corpses of mercenaries have been seized. We have also liberated hundreds of villages and hamlets in both axis.
In spite of the terrible weather conditions the fighters of the SFD continue progressing to reach our people who are awaiting to taste freedom. We are working in all our capacities to progress and liberate these regions from ISIS’ control.
You mentioned that hundreds of villages and hamlets have been liberated, how are the displaced people secured?
When the 2nd phase of the campaign began, we appealed to our people to head for SDF-held regions, on the Tel Samin axis. The residents of liberated regions were evacuated to safer areas to be relocated to their villages after we confirmed that it was safe to do so.
In the 1st phase of the operation we provided safe accommodation for people in areas outside the field of battle until their villages were liberated. This was done under the supervision of our forces and people were evacuated and delivered to safer areas to protect their lives and security.
You launched the Wrath of Euphrates Operation at the end of 2016 and the world is watching the SDF’s progress. Will you keep your promise on eliminating ISIS?
Of course. The operation began at the end of 2016 to defeat reactionary powers. Our operation is still underway; we have a high morale and are progressing to liberate our people from the mercenaries’ gangs.
With the beginning of the new year we are striving to liberate Raqqa city from ISIS control. We we will keep our promise by freeing every single acre of this land; the more we approach Raqqa, the more we are determined in achieving victory.
We will be victorious particularly because the areas residents have come to realise the truth of the mercenaries’ gangs. They will not be deceived by their promises any more. We assure that 2017 will be the year of ISIS’ annihilation.
Two years ago ISIS kidnapped hundreds of Yazidi women. They were sold in slave markets in Raqqa. In your opinion, to what extent will the Wrath of Euphrates Operation liberate Yazidi women?
We have already promised and will renew our promise that we as the YPJ will strive to liberate Yazidi women. Our participation as the YPJ in the ranks of the Wrath of Euphrates Operation is evidence that we are continuing our struggle until all women oppressed by ISIS are liberated.
Our approach to this campaign is not limited to women’s liberation; we are also working on organising, enlightening, and bringing about a much active role for women. The age of women’s slavery is over; whereas women were given traditional roles to cook and have children, today they are more powerful than ever; they are holding arms and fighting the worst terrorist groups the world has seen to defend their people and land.
We repeat our vows on liberating Yazidi women. We will continue fighting for all women suffering oppression under mercenary rule.
Would you like to say to anything to the people awaiting your forces’ arrival?
The new year will bring us victory. We promise our people in Raqqa that the mercenary gangs will soon be defeated. The people of Raqqa should be ready, as the sun of freedom will soon be shining in their skies.
Interview by Dilsoz Dildar