SDF: Raqqa to be part of decentralized Syria

Female Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather during a celebration at the iconic Al-Naim Square in Raqqa after retaking the city from Daesh fighters. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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SDF: Raqqa to be part of decentralized Syria

JEDDAH: Raqqa and the surrounding province will be part of a decentralized, federal Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which captured the city from Daesh, said on Friday.
“We pledge to protect the borders of the province against all external threats, and we confirm that the future of Raqqa province will be determined by its people within the framework of a decentralized, federal democratic Syria in which the people of the province will run their own affairs,” the SDF said in a statement formally declaring Raqqa’s capture from Daesh.
Ali Haidar, the Syrian regime’s minister responsible for national reconciliation, said Raqqa’s future could only be discussed “as part of the final political structure of the Syrian state.”
In reaction to the SDF statement, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Arab News: “When you’re killing around 1,200 civilians — nearly half of them women and children — and destroying 80 percent of the city, that’s not liberating Raqqa.”
The city and province will continue to be part of Syria “whether Americans accept it or not,” he said, rejecting the possibility of Syria fragmenting. He said the majority of the people in Raqqa are Arabs and that “whoever controls its people, will have the control over Raqqa.”
Abdel Rahman said the Syrian game is now between Russia and America.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said there is a risk that de-escalation zones created in Syria will lead to a division of the country. But, he said he hoped that could be avoided.
Quoting his top sources, Abdel Rahman said, a split of Syria will remain a dream.
He said Russia took Al-Mayadeen, the second most important city under Daesh’s control after Raqqa, in four days, “but it took them four months to take Raqqa.”
He said the international media took special interest in Raqqa “because Kurdish fighters were fighting there.”
Abdel Rahman said Syria will become a theater of war between the US and Russia. The country is now controlled by Washington and Moscow, not by the Assad regime, the SDF or any other group, Abdel Rahman added.
Asked what future he sees for the war-wracked country, he said: “The people of Syria are its future.”
The US State Department said Daesh’s loss of Raqqa “does not mean our fight against ISIS is over.” It said the global coalition will continue to draw on all elements of national power … until all Syrians have been liberated from ISIS brutality and we can ensure that it can no longer export its terror around the world.”
In a declaration formally announcing Raqqa’s liberation, the SDF pledged “to protect the frontiers of the province against all external threats,” and to hand control to a civil council from the city.


Israeli air strike kills Hamas man in Gaza

Updated 19 July 2018
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Israeli air strike kills Hamas man in Gaza

GAZA: An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed a member of the militant Hamas group on Thursday and wounded three others, Hamas sources and medical officials said.
The Israeli military confirmed it had carried out an air strike targeting Hamas militants who were about to launch balloons rigged with flammable material over the border into Israel.
Hamas sources said the casualties were security men working at an observation post near Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Fires caused by incendiary helium balloons and kites launched by Palestinians in Gaza have ravaged tracts of farmland in Israel in recent months. Israel has vowed to stop the attacks, even at the risk of wider conflict.
Weekly clashes at the Israel-Gaza border have kept tensions at a high for months. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during protests at the frontier held every week since March.
Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations, dubbed The Great March of Return, to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks. Hamas denies this.
Cross-border violence surged on Saturday when Palestinian militants fired more than 100 rockets into Israel and the Israeli military carried out dozens of air strikes in the Hamas-ruled enclave.