The northern operation of the Kurd-led SDF advance on Raqqa, currently underway, is being led by YPJ (Kurd women’s militia) anarchist-feminist, Commander Rojda Felat. Altogether 30,000 SDF militia are readying to lay siege to the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa and force the surrender of the jihadists. If the SDF succeed in this endeavour they will not only inflict a major defeat on ISIS, but will create the opportunity to liberate the only territory that divides the Kurdish cantons of northern Syria. Equally significant, the US miltary have been involved in talks with the SDF over the last few days and there are reports coming through that the United States will, despite opposition from Turkey, back international recognition of the cantons, mainly because the US and Coalition allies such as Britain now believe that the cantons can function as a geo-political buffer to the Assad regime.
UPDATE 1: President Erdogan of Turkey completely out of step with reality, condemns YPG/J (and Kurd armies) as ‘terrorists’ even though US now supporting them in their assault on ISIS.
UPDATE 2: May 30th: Rojda Felat stated that the operation to liberate the north of Raqqa was carried out in three different directions with further support from forces East of the Euphrates. Ten villages and many hamlets in the area near Raqqa have been liberated from ISIS since May 24.
Interestingly, the SDF now not only includes Kurds – mainly the YPG – but also an array of anti-Assad and anti-ISIS militia, including Arabs and Assyrians. This is a notable change in its composition, enabling the US to see the SDF as representing wider interests. (Reportedly, Russia is also backing the SDF alliance.)
SDF commander Rojda Felat has stated that the immediate goal of the SDF is to take the area surrounding Raqqa, but not to advance on the city. There will then be a siege, with the aim of seeking ISIS surrender.
Felat has previously led attacks on ISIS strongholds, such as Shadadi, where the Kurds and their allies liberated Yezidi women taken by ISIS as sex-slaves.
The SDF is jojbed by the Raqqa Liberation Brigade. US General Joseph Votel secretly met with SDF commanders last weekend to help coordinate the advance. There are an estimated 10,000 women soldiers in the Kurd led SDF.