Assault on Islamic State Syria stronghold 'imminent'

Assault on Islamic State Syria stronghold 'imminent'
A US-backed assault on Raqqa, the main stronghold of IS in Syria, is imminent and could come within weeks, sources in the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have said.
2 min read
13 October, 2015
In June, YPG forces seized Kobani and Tal al-Abyad, dealing IS a major blow [Getty]
An attack to drive the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) from its Syrian base of operations in Raqqa is expected within weeks, the head of one of the militias expected to take part in the US-backed operation was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Sipan Hamo, head of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper that contacts were underway with the US-led coalition to set "zero hour" for the operation.

The YPG is part of a military alliance including Syrian Arab groups that were airdropped small arms and ammunition by US forces in northeastern Syria on Sunday. The new group is called the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The airdrop is part of a revamped US strategy announced last week to help rebels in Syria battling IS.

In June, the YPG ousted IS from the town of Kobani, which became a symbol of Kurdish resistance. IS's progress in north-eastern Syria has since run out of steam.

The YPG achieved another victory against IS a few days later, evicting it from the town of Tal al-Abyad.

However, there have been accusations the Kurdish forces were engaged in ethnic cleansing against Syrian Arabs.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International said Kurdish security forces have forcibly displaced civilians and demolished houses in several villages in Syria's northeast with no military justification.