Hundreds of Raqqa Residents Demand US Troop Withdrawal – Report
The city used to be an HQ for Daesh until it was freed by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after massive air bombing performed by the US coalition. Earlier in March 2018 reports had started to surface about a civilian group banding together in a bid to expel the US and SDF from the city.
According to the Iranian Al-Alam TV channel, a massive demonstration is taking place in the central street of Raqqa, where “hundreds of Raqqa residents” holding national Syrian flags are advocating the expulsion of the US military presence. According to the media platform, inhabitants are demanding that the US withdraw from the north-eastern parts of Syria and slamming the airstrikes, conducted by the US, UK and France on April 14. They also urged the speedy return of the legitimate Syrian government to the city and the start of restoration work in Raqqa.
In March the first reports about the Popular Resistance of Raqqa (PRoR) group appeared in the media. According to them they are fighting against the US and Kurdish “occupation” of the city. On April 2, 2018 they reportedly fired several shells toward a US-occupied military base near the city, where the 93rd Brigade was deployed.
Raqqa was seized by Daesh in 2013 and was considered to be its headquarters. After a massive airstrike campaign performed by the US-led coalition, the SDF forces finally managed to capture the city and declared it “cleared” in October 2017. According to UN investigators, the airstrikes conducted during the campaign for the liberation of Raqqa resulted in numerous civilian casualties. The US coalition claimed it found no evidence of this. Damascus at present considers the city to be occupied by US forces as they are not operating in Syria under the UN mandate or official invitation, like Russia.