The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) – the political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – is currently negotiating with the Damascus government in preparation for a handover of the Arab city of Raqqa, the UK-based news outlet al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on July 1.
During May, Raqqa witnessed several protests against the Kurdish-dominated force. Later on June 23, the SDF’s security forces (Asayish) launched a security operation against the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) group Thuwar al-Raqqa Brigade in the city and managed to neutralize it after expelling its leader.
According to al-Araby al-Jadeed, neutralization of the Thuwar al-Raqqa Brigade was among the main demands of the Damascus government. The UK-based outlet added that pro-government activists in Raqqa are currently preparing the ground for the handover of the city to the government.
On June 30, the Hezbollah media wing in Syria reported that locals of the Arab Abu Shaaban tribe raised the Syrian flag on several key buildings inside Raqqa. This may confirm some of al-Araby al-Jadeed claims.
The SDF captured Raqqa from ISIS on October 17 of 2017 after an intense battle, during which most of the city was destroyed. This led to anger among the locals, especially that the US-led coalition didn’t support any recovery efforts in the war torn city, regardless of the U.S. claims.
If such a development took place, the handover of Raqqa city to the Damascus government will be a huge development and another strong sign of the improving relationship between Damascus and the SDF. This would also confirm that the U.S. administration is seeking an early withdraw from Syria.