The Syrian Kurds previously refused to attack the IS in Raqqah and insisted that the US help them first liberate the area which they call “Shahbaa’ Regions” مناطق الشهباء .
The word Ash-Shahbaa’ الشهباء is an Arabic nickname for Aleppo city. The name “Shahbaa’ Regions” is another toponymic invention by the PYD that refers to the area extending from Kobani to Afrin in Aleppo Province. It is also possible that the “Shahbaa’ Regions” include the part of Aleppo city that is inhabited by Kurds. (Assad today has bombed this Kurdish part of Aleppo city. He is getting so nervous because of the Kurdish attack on Raqqah and he obviously expects the Kurds to move later towards Aleppo.)
Many people are asking, why have the Kurds suddenly agreed to attack the IS in Raqqah? What will they get from the Americans in exchange?
One thing that the Kurds have obviously got is the upgrading of their relations with the Americans. In the past the Americans would not allow any officials from the PYD into America, but recently there has been an important visit by two leaders of the PYD to Washington. Reports in Arabic media spoke of meetings between PYD officials and American officials in the White House. There have been also important visits by American military leaders to the Kurdish areas in Syria, most recently by Joseph Votel, and that visit was not kept secret by the Americans.
The Americans also have sent hundreds of military advisers to Syria, and there are Arabic reports that they have sent some combat troops as well.
All of those are obvious gains for the Syrian Kurds. I presume that those are the only gains that the Kurds will have made in exchange for their attack on the IS in Raqqqah. It is possible that the Americans promised the Kurds to help them take the “Shahbaa’ Regions” after Raqqah, but I doubt the importance of such a promise. The Raqqah operation will not end soon, and the American administration will leave office in months. By next year many things can change and old promises may not be kept, if such promises were made in the first place.
In any case, I hope that the Kurds will eventually get to Aleppo. If that happens, it will severely undermine Assad’s presence in that city. Assad knows that, and this is the reason for why he has intensified his bombing of Aleppo. He is trying to destroy as much as possible of the city before he leaves it for good.
Assad was hoping that the Russians would turn Aleppo into another Grozny and hand it over to him; but the Russians do not seem very interested in wiping Aleppo off the map, and this is driving Assad crazy.