Raqqa campaign (2012–13)
The Raqqa campaign (2012–13) was a series of battles and offensives launched by various Syrian rebel groups, led by the al-Nusra Front, against Syrian government forces in the Raqqa Governorate as part of the Syrian Civil War. The campaign was launched at the second half of 2012 and ended in the capture of the city of Raqqa as well as dozens of smaller towns and facilities.
On 19 September 2012, Free Syrian Army rebels led by the Farouq Brigades captured the border town of Tell Abyad and its border crossing with the town of Akçakale in Turkey. The next day, the Syrian Air Force bombed a petrol station in Tell Abyad, killing 30 civilians and wounding 70. A rebel fighter was also mortally wounded. In October, Syrian government forces launched a counteroffensive in Tell Abyad which resulted in a border clash between Syria and Turkey.
In November 2012, both the rebels and government forces set up checkpoints on the road between al-Thawrah (Tabqa) and Aleppo. By the end of December, the majority of the Raqqa province were reportedly under rebel control, and rebel fighters entered al-Thawra.
Battle of al-Thawrah
On 10 January 2013, heavy clashes erupted in the town of al-Thawra and the Syrian Air Force in Tabqa airbase shelled the town with artillery. By 11 February, rebels led by the al-Nusra Front fully captured both the town and the Tabqa Dam next to it.
Battle of Raqqa city
On 6 March 2013, rebel forces led by the al-Nusra Front fully captured the city of Raqqa from Syrian government, forces after a 3-day battle. The Syrian Army retreated to the military base of the 17th Division, to the northeast of the city.
The al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham implemented Sharia in the towns they captured. By April 2013, hundreds of Assyrians were displaced from al-Thawra. Christians, including those who supported the opposition, were kidnapped in Raqqa, al-Thawra, and Tel Abyad by al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL also carried out public executions of dozens of people in the towns by firing squad. Political activism was also suppressed, several churches and mosques were burned, and hundreds of Armenians fled Raqqa.
Order of battle
- Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups
- Farouq Brigades
- Raqqa Revolutionaries Brigade
- Kurdish Front Brigade
- Euphrates Knights Brigade
- Free Tabqa Brigade
- Independent Islamist groups (some of which are also part of FSA)
- Islamic Unity and Liberation Front (alliance of several Islamist militias)
- Liwa Owais al-Qorani
- Nasr Saladin Brigade
- Liwa Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman
- Muntasir Billah Brigade
- Katibat Hudheifa bin al-Yaman
- Katibat Mohammed bin Abdullah
- Katibat Musaib bin Umair
- Katibat Abu Dujana
- Katibat Saraya al-Furat
- Katibat Shuhada al-Jamaa Jund al-Rahman
- Katibat Ahrar al-Badiyah
- Ahfad al-Rasul Brigades
- Al-Tawhid Brigade
- Conquest Brigade
- Ghuraba al-Sham Battalion
- Ahrar al-Sham
- Liwa Umanaa’ al-Raqqa
- Liwa al-Haqq (Idlib)
- Islamic State of Iraq
- Shura Council Front
- Harakat al-Fajr al-Islamiyya
- Ghuraba al-Sham
- Katibat Usud al-Sunna (part of Mujahideen Shura Council)
- Syrian Army
- Syrian Air Force
- National Defence Forces
- Military Intelligence Directorate
- Political Security Directorate
- Winter (2014), p. 13.
- Lister (2015), p. 112.
- Bill Roggio (5 December 2013). "4 battalions from Qatar-backed Islamist brigade defect to wage 'armed jihadist struggle'". Long War Journal. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- Nicholas Al-Jeloo (2 August 2013). "Stranded: the Forgotten Assyrians of Al-Thawrah, Syria". Assyrian International News Agency.
- Firas al-Hakkar (8 November 2013). "The Mysterious Fall of Raqqa, Syria's Kandahar". al-Akhbar.
- Rania Abouzeid (5 October 2012). "Syria's Up-and-Coming Rebels: Who Are the Farouq Brigades?". TIME.
- Winter (2014), p. 14.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (29 July 2014). "The Factions of Raqqa Province".
- Matthew Barber (4 April 2013). "The Raqqa Story: Rebel Structure, Planning, and Possible War Crimes".
- "WRAPUP 3-Syrian rebels extend grip on Turkish border". Reuters. 19 September 2012.
- "Thursday 20 September 2012". SKS.com.
- "Turkey hits targets inside Syria after border deaths". BBC. 4 October 2012.
- "Militant group says was behind Aleppo air defence base assault". Reuters. 20 October 2012.
- "Rebels take control of military airport in North Syria, NGO says". AFP. 12 February 2013.
- "Thousands mourn the body of the martyr Adnan Sheikh Mohammed in Kobani". Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party. 13 June 2013.
- Winter (2014), p. 5.
- Winter (2014), p. 12.
- "Jihadists push Syria rebels out of Raqqa". Now News. 14 August 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
- Lister (2015), pp. 112, 167.
- "A leader in the Free Army Conquest Brigade: There are contacts and meetings between us and PYD but?". Afrin News Agency. 15 October 2012.
- Winter (2014), pp. 5, 6.
- Winter (2014), p. 15.
- Winter, Lucas (2014). Raqqa: From Regime overthrow to inter-rebel fighting. Foreign Military Studies Office.
- Lister, Charles R. (2015). The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.