ISIS will have no power left after Raqqa: Commander

Jabhat al-Akrad Commander Ali Çiçek stated that “We can assess the Raqqa campaign as the final phase in the fight against ISIS as ISIS will not have much power left after Raqqa.”

Jabhat al-Akrad that was founded within the Free Syrian Army to defend Kurdish villages in al-Bab region at the beginning of the Syrian revolution, organized itself as Jabhat al-Akrad Brigade in 2013. Having partaken in the battle against ISIS on several fronts, Jabhat al-Akrad is now participating in the operation to liberate Raqqa.

Jabhat al-Akrad Commander Ali Çiçek spoke to ANF about their participation in the Raqqa campaign and their fight against ISIS.

Could you shortly tell us about the goal of Jabhat al-Akrad’s establishment?

With the eruption of conflict in Syria, we got organized within the Free Syrian Army to defend Kurdish villages in al-Bab region. In addition to Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens also joined our forces in the following period. We grew stronger in a short time. In 2013 we organized ourselves as Jabhat al-Akrad Brigade.

On which fronts have you joined the battle so far?

Several, including Meryemin, Eqyemin, Sheikh Maqsoud and Kobanê fronts. We are now participating in the Raqqa operation. We are based in Efrîn and we came to Raqqa from Efrîn.

Can you expand on the importance of Raqqa for you?

Raqqa is of great importance to us because Raqqa is the heart of ISIS and clearing Raqqa will be to break the will and power of ISIS altogether. In addition, ISIS was wholly based in Raqqa for five years and the people of Raqqa have suffered a lot. Ending the pains of the people and helping them attain a free live is more important than anything to us.

How strong is your force in Raqqa operation?

We first joined the Raqqa campaign as a battalion of fighters, which was followed by the participation of another battalion. We are taking an active place in the operation with two battalions now. We hold emplacements on six fronts. We started from Cezra and then joined the Raqqa city campaign, in which we are fighting for two months now. We have positions in Melebi and Watani Hospital and various locations in the city.

You fought and gained experience in many battles before. How did this experience contribute to the Raqqa offensive?

Jabhat al-Akrad played its role very well in the fight against ISIS, but the most successful and active participation of ours has taken place in the Raqqa battle. This is the longest period of time we have spent in a liberation campaign. We gained much experience in Raqqa in terms of urban war as our previous battles against ISIS took place mainly in villages, rural areas and desert. Raqqa city has narrow streets surrounded by buildings and it requires experience to fight in such a place. The battle of Raqqa has been a great proving ground for us.

What challenges are you being through in this operation?

We can assess the Raqqa campaign as the final phase in the fight against ISIS as ISIS will not have much power left after Raqqa, which is why they have been fighting till the very end to not lose the city where they were based. There have been challenges, of course, but things progressed well on our side amid continued advances by our forces. Sometimes our comrades remained encircled for seven hours, sometimes clashes continued for hours and sometimes our fighters ran out of food and water. Still, they kept fighting without any hesitation with the ultimate goal of clearing the ISIS. Our forces have always based on success. The challenges and problems we have experienced only made us enhance the struggle and fight stronger.

Will your forces turn back to Efrîn after the Raqqa operation?

This is not among our plans. We still have Deir ez-Zor and the fight is not limited with Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor alone. Wherever ISIS exists, is a field of battle for us. ISIS is our primary enemy and we will head for anywhere in Rojava and Syria where ISIS is. ISIS is a common enemy of whole humanity and therefore everyone should join the fight against ISIS until ISIS is wiped off the face of the earth.