YPG commander calls for international support to rebuild Raqqa

A commander for the YPG/YPJ called on international powers to join the efforts to rebuild Raqqa after the elimination of ISIS threat.

YPG/YPJ commander Newroz Ehmed said that Syrian Democratic Forces achieved victory in Raqqa but talked about tough tasks ahead, pointing out the need to clear the city of mines and sleeper cells of ISIS.

“After the city is secured we need to start rebuilding efforts immediately” Ehmed said.

Newroz Ehmed is a member of the YPG/YPJ Military Council and one of the commanders of the Raqqa operation. She is now on the front lines in the Operation Cizire Storm against ISIS in Deir ez-Zor. Ehmed spoke to ANF about the Raqqa liberation campaign, the current situation and plans for the city.


Raqqa has been liberated by Syrian Democratic Forces. At this moment can we say that Raqqa is secure?

The most challenging part of the operation was to eliminate ISIS in Raqqa and liberate the city. We achieved this after a very intense fighting and we paid the price for it. However, the city was destroyed because of the intensity of the fighting. The people of Raqqa had to leave their homes and their land and became refugees.

The task to rebuild the city is a tough one. It’s not only because of the level of destruction. There are thousands of mines in the city. Some of the mines have been cleared but ISIS set booby traps in various location and they are hard to find. Every day there occur mine explosions in the city, causing casualties.

We need the support of international organizations to clear all the mines in the city. Therefore we need to keep the city under control and prevent civilian casualties.

Of course, we need to consider the presence of ISIS’ sleeping cells. It’s important for us to keep the region under control with utmost attention for another while. We can’t say “we liberated the city, everything is over, the city is secure”. We need to take defensive measures in the city for a significant period of time.


The Baath (Assad) regime is claiming sovereignty in the region? Is there a Baath threat over Raqqa?

I can’t say that there exists such a specific threat for Raqqa. There is a distance in the form of border between us and the regime. There is no reason for them (the regime) to target here (Raqqa).

But we can talk about a general Baath threat for Northern Syria. Because the regime doesn’t recognise the democratic federal system that we have built, which all people will be a part of with their rights. This situation includes the danger of a war in general. The regime claims to have a right over all regions and all of the resources. This is not acceptable to us. We have been fighting to live freely under a democratic regime and for our rights. We will continue to fight for these. We didn’t suffer all those losses for nothing. We cannot accept the regime like this. Sometimes clashes occur or tensions arise because of the sovereigntist and monist attitudes of the regime. The regime should change to a democratic one so that we can live freely and peacefully.


What is needed for the rebuilding of Raqqa?

Of course, to rebuild the city we need finances and resources. We think that we will need the support of international powers and relief organizations. Because Raqqa in important for the whole world. Now during the process of rebuilding the city we need the same level of support that we received from the international coalition during the liberation campaign.

Raqqa was the base of hundreds of foreign jihadists from all around the world. Under the lead of our forces, that threat has been eliminated. We saved the world from this threat. Therefore we now hope that the world will provide help for the rebuilding of the city.


What do you foresee for the future of Raqqa. Do you have a plan?

We withdrew some of our forces from Raqqa but our units remain in the city for security. We are transferring the authority to the Civil Council of Raqqa step by step. 

The Civil Council is not only a formality like some say. The city is not under Kurdish rule. There are representatives in accordance with the proportions of Raqqa’s population. It includes representatives of all the tribes that suffered under ISIS rule.

The Civil Council will organize the return of the people to the city. And whenever they need assistance we as SDF are ready to answer them.