As SDF forces push into Raqqa, Western volunteers express concern about lack of aid


Soldiers of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) performing a traditional dance during a break after clashes with ISIS west of Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Western volunteers with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are worried that there is a lack of aid for the IDPs and medical support for the SDF when the SDF forces enter Raqqa city, the ISIS de facto capital.

SDF members expressed concerns for aid shortage, fearing a similar situation as in Manbij earlier, where there was almost no food aid or medical support.

“I know several military equipment and military vehicles arrived in Rojava. Convoys of 30-40 trucks with logistic and supplies for the Raqqa liberation. But when it comes to first aid and medical teams and supplies there is not much,” Jesper Söder, a Swedish SDF member, told ARA News.

“They [US-led coalition] have sent in three helicopters for medical transport, but it will not be enough for the Raqqa fight,” he warned.

“We need at least 50 medical personnel on the front, and with all vehicles and ambulances we can spare, to make sure we can help as many of the injured soldiers and civilians as possible,” said Söder, adding: “It will be a very messy situation with this operation.”

“There are a lot of problems and therefore we need to prepare as best as we can to make sure we don’t have another Manbij situation with more deaths as a result of a lack of doctors and lack of taking care of the injured,” he added.

Macer Gifford, a former British volunteers with the YPG and an anti-ISIS campaigner, told ARA News there is more need for humanitarian support to reduce the casualties. “When I was in Manbij, the YPG [a leading faction of the SDF] gave as much as food as possible to civilians, we didn’t have anything on us,” he said. “I saw thousands of civilians in Manbij asking for food.”

Gifford said he has sent many messages to UK officials and the British government to ask for humanitarian aid for northern Syria. “We got to make civilians feel, when the SDF comes, there is support for them, shelter, and aid,” he said. “But the focus is not on the SDF [in the UK], but mostly on Brexit, and Donald Trump,” he told ARA News.

According to Gifford, there should be more pressure on Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq from the West to allow aid in Rojava–Northern Syria. “The aid can be vetted and searched, it’s just to give shelter, and food. There should be unlimited access for aid to the country. And now we also got American and Russian bases and air fields, to which aid can be directly flown into the country in cargo planes and unloaded,” he added.

“There are large refugee camps and thousands of refugees, and they need aid. What seems to be happening that politics is stopping significant aid to hundreds of thousands of people,” Gifford told ARA News.

In September 2016, the U.S.-led coalition delivered 200 metric tons of food that was provided to about 2,400 families through the Manbij Organization for Relief and Development.

Gifford said while the West spends millions of pounds on aid for refugees outside Syria, not a dime or grain of rice is being sent to anyone inside Northern Syria.

“Unless, it’s the UN that sends huge amounts of aid to a dictator [Assad] who uses it as a weapon of war against the people, this while the YPG [People’s Protection Units] and SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] give aid to all communities in Syria,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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