08:49 GMT +324 February 2019
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    A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) looks at a smoke after an coalition airstrike in Raqqa, Syria June 16, 2017

    Former Banker Turned Fighter Calls for Political Support After Raqqa Liberation

    © REUTERS / Goran Tomasevic
    Middle East
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    The ex-banker turned Kurdish fighter, who goes under the pseudonym of Macer Gifford, has called on the US-led coalition to provide military, humanitarian and political support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in trying to liberate Raqqa in Syria.

    Gifford posted a video on his Facebook page on July 3. The former city trader turned soldier is requesting that the international community maintain its military support to force the terrorist group, Daesh (also known as ISIS/ ISIL) out of its de facto capital, which it seized in 2014. 

    SDF forces have now breached the walls of Raqqa's Old City, the US military reported on June 4.

    Gifford, who is also a former British Conservative Party councilor, called for humanitarian aid to help protect civilians fleeing the battle and for political assistance.

    "Every single night we are doing something, and even during the day we're calling in airstrikes, shooting back, we've got our own snipers who are very-very talented, which are whittling down ISIS's numbers and making their defeat much more likely," Gifford said in the video.

    "It's going to take a long while because we've got to root them out. There are a lot of snipers as you just heard; there's a lot of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] as well, and that's pretty much our biggest challenge. It's finding, isolating these snipers, pinning them down, calling in airstrikes, avoiding the IEDs during the night and other things that plague the city," Gifford added.

    ​Gifford, who is fighting with a unit of Christian fighters, says air support has been critical to their operations. 

    "One of the main messages I have for the coalition is to keep up the airstrikes. It's incredible. I've never seen so many airstrikes in the city. Every other seemingly minute, maybe every hour, there is an airstrike at some point in the city, and I think there are more facilitators on the ground… more drones in the sky. So the power projection the YPG [Kurdish militia] and the SDF is able to put over the city is incredibly strong, it's doing wonders and saved many, many lives," Gifford said.

    ​However, one of Gifford's key aims is for the international community to start examining and looking at what will come after the extremists are defeated and pushed out of the city.

    "What we really need is political support as well. Because, as I mentioned before, Raqqa is on its way out, it's going to finish at some point in the not too distant future and the real battle will be what happens next after the city's liberated," Gifford added.

    ​Estimations from the US military is that there are up to 100,000 civilians trapped inside the city. Humanitarian aid, alongside political support is critical at this time, according to Gifford.


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    airstrikes, US-led coalition, Kurdish fighters, Syrian crisis, The Syrian war, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Daesh, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Syria, Raqqa, Middle East
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