U.S. -backed Kurdish and coalition forces are ramping up for an assault on Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria.
After the overwhelmingly successful assault on the city of Mosul in Iraq, many ISIS fighters fled west into Syria to make their last stand.
Kurdish forces began the slow and steady march through the towns surrounding the city, where they faced vicious resistance from ISIS fighters trying desperately to hold onto the territory.
Heval Sinar, a U.S.-born YPG fighter who recently returned from fighting on the front lines in a town called Tabqa, said that the desperation of ISIS is readily apparent by their actions.
“Every day we faced suicide bombers at our checkpoints, rocket-propelled grenades, and vehicles laden with explosives,” he said. “It was [ISIS] throwing everything they had at us as we moved closer to the city. They are growing desperate and they know that our forces are closing in.”
“We understand that taking the city will not be easy, and many say that it will rival some of the greatest battles seen in World War II,” Sinar added. “But in the end, we will crush their capital and their leadership will flee.”
Kristian Weaver, who fights alongside Christian Assyrian forces aimed at toppling ISIS alongside the YPG and SDF, said that to the many who have lived under Islamic State oppression leading up to the battle of Raqqa, the fight has become personal.
“There are over 3,000 Assyrians being held captive in Raqqa and many more yezedis and other minorities being kept for ransom and rape wives,” he said. “It is the duty of the MFS to rescue our people from the clutches of evil at all costs. We will do whatever we must to prevail in the fight against [ISIS].”