Impression: An overwhelming victory in Raqqa
Finally, Mother Khatija was the last civilian to be liberated in Raqqa. She had accomplished to hide in a part of her house over the entire urban war. She was rescued during a last operation on the morning of the 135th day, when the victory was announced.
Tunnels, mines, traps… But the very worst thing was that Daesh used civilians, women and children as human shields. The 4 years long Daesh captivity was ended through the common liberation fight of Êzidîs, Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs, Syriacs, Turks and internationalists from Europe and all around the world.
Despite all difficulties, challenges, desperate situations, the hope was always upheld until the victory.
In all seasons, every day and minute, the Raqqa operation produced historic heroism and sacrifice. A photograph wherever you look, a story whoever you ask. First of all, there are the martyrs, whose stories from the frontlines will never be forgotten. Each of them will be remembered as a source of light, as a candle in the dark.
With special operations, the SDF forces were able to rescue thousands of civilians from Raqqa. They all are safe now.
I have spoken to dozens of freed civilians from Raqqa. They told me horrible stories: People, executed, because they wear colours, punished, because they listened to music, not wearing rings, and endless further inhuman practices.
The meeting of the SDF and civilians from Raqqa was magnificent. They embraced and thanked the fighters. Some were crying.
During the SDF’s civilians-rescuing operations, none was injured. They were all rescued, group by group, family by family, and person by person.
Some Daesh fighters tried to abuse this of course. They found themselves back in the SDF’s intelligence service.
KHATIJA, THE LAST CIVILIAN
Mother Khatija was the last freed civilian in Raqqa. She had accomplished to hide in a part of her house during the urban fight. Until the morning of October 17, she resisted hunger and thirst. “I was as silent as possible” she says. At the morning Raqqa was liberated, with the last operation, Khatija was rescued. She hugged the SDF fighters, raised her hands up towards the sky and thanked God. The moment of her liberation was overwhelming.
THE TUNNELS WERE HISTORIC, THEY WILL BE REMEMBERED
Daesh had forced peasants and other hostages into slavery and led them work hard in tunnels for months. These tunnels will certainly become part of history of this war. The war, killings, everything was planned in these tunnels.
All the documents, medicine and supplies found in Raqqa, reveal that Daesh was fed by Turkey. Daesh’s actual home is Turkey. Raqqa is Ankara’s capital at the same time. Now, that can be stated clearly. It is more than obvious.
A VICTORY OF FAITH AND BROTHERHOOD
In fact, the end of Daesh, which ruled over the northern Syrian city of Raqqa for about 4 years, was initiated in Kobanê. The victory in Kobanê proved to the world and all peoples in the region that through a strong faith and through cooperation huge fascism can be defeated.
There were no modern, high-complex weapons or night vision devices. The SDF’s victory in Raqqa is made of their desire for freedom and the Kalashnikovs in their hands.
Every operation found a solution for the mines, even without metal detectors.
In order to block the entrance of the tunnels, the SDF fighters carried kilos of stones on their backs.
Despite all challenges, a lack of technology, Raqqa was liberated by those, who share every little amount of rice they have.
Another unique and epic detail: Êzidîs, Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs, Syriacs, Turks and fighters from New York, London, fought shoulder to shoulder against Daesh. They fought together, shared their water and carried their common martyrs on their backs.
WOMEN COORDINATED THE BATTLE
The real owners of the victory in Raqqa are certainly the women; the presence of YJŞ (Shengal Women’s Units) was the source of moral. The YPJ was not only engaged militarily, it also took part in the coordination and played a decisive role in guiding and leading the fight.
The genocide in Shengal was planned and prepared in Raqqa. Daesh sold thousands of women from Shengal in their slave markets in Raqqa. Women took a historic lead in the victory in Raqqa.
In every step of the operation, women fighters took responsibility. When it was necessary, they carried heavy material on their backs over long distances, they took part in the fighting, some fell as martyrs or were wounded.
With great courage, the YJŞ took revenge from those who made and planned the genocide in Shengal. This has a historic meaning.
The joy of the victory echoed all over the streets of Raqqa. The victory was accomplished on the 135th day of the operation. Daesh was completely eliminated. Mother Khadija was the last civilian freed.
Raqqa’s dust, its smell of gun-powder was defeated by the beautiful feeling of freedom.
After the last operation on October 17, the SDF forces headed towards the city centre and gathered there. After a hard last one week of fighting, and a mine-cleaning procedure in the city’s stadium, a YPG flag was positioned in the middle of the pitch.
THE VICTORY WALK
After that, commanders of different frontlines and coordinators of the battle began a common victory walk in the city centre. Flags of the YPG, the YPJ, the SDF and the YJŞ were raised everywhere in the city centre. The fighters began to dance Halay and sang songs of victory together.
* This article by Erem Kansoy first appeared on Yeni Özgür Politika newspaper and was translated by ANF English service.