Civil society organizations and political bodies in the province of Raqqa announced rejection of giving any role to the PYD militias in the battle to liberate the city from the ISIS extremist group as these militias do not have a social grassroots base in most parts of the province.
In a statement released on Sunday, the organizations and political bodies stressed that the task of ousting ISIS from Raqqa must be assigned to local armed groups. The statement said that the international anti-ISIS coalition should train and equip local armed groups in Raqqa if they were serious about liberating the city from ISIS.
The statement referred to widespread violations committed by the PYD militias during and following the ousting of ISIS from the town of Tal Aabyad and its surrounding villages in northern rural Raqqa in the summer of 2015. These violations included the mass forced displacement of thousands of people of the area from their homes, the demolition and looting of houses, and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of civilians.
Signatories of the statement, most notably the Raqqa provincial council, the teachers’ association, the judiciary committee, and the Syrian Turkmen Association, warned that the participation of the PYD militias in the upcoming battle for Raqqa risks igniting a protracted Arab-Kurdish conflict in Syria.
Signatories said that local armed groups in Raqqa should be tasked with liberating the city and managing all affairs of its residents, especially the provision of service as well as political, social, and military affairs. The statement stressed the need to take into consideration the tensions on the Syrian-Turkish border in northern rural Raqqa and avoid provoking any conflict with Turkey during or after the battle to capture Raqqa.
(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 07.11.2016)