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Raqqa campaign (2012–2013)

Raqqa campaign (2012–2013)

The Raqqa campaign (2012–2013) 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.

The campaign


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.

On 12 October 2012, the al-Nusra Front and Harakat Fajr ash-Sham al-Islamiya attacked the Suluq barracks in Raqqa and claimed to have killed 32 Syrian soldiers.

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

Rebel forces

Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups
  • Farouq Brigades
  • Raqqa Revolutionaries Brigade
    • Jihad in the Path of God 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
Syrian Islamic Liberation Front
  • Ahfad al-Rasul Brigades
    • Muntasir Billah Brigade
  • Al-Tawhid Brigade
  • Conquest Brigade
    • Ghuraba al-Sham Battalion
Syrian Islamic Front
  • Ahrar al-Sham
    • Liwa Umanaa’ al-Raqqa
  • Liwa al-Haqq (Idlib)
    • Katibat al-Bara'
    • Katibat Saraya al-Furat
Al-Qaeda affiliates and other Salafist jihadists
  • Islamic State of Iraq
    • Muhajireen Battalion
  • Shura Council Front
    • Al-Nusra Front
  • Harakat al-Fajr al-Islamiyya
  • Ghuraba al-Sham
  • Katibat Usud al-Sunna (part of Mujahideen Shura Council)

Government forces

Syrian Armed Forces
  • Syrian Army
    • 17th Division
  • Syrian Air Force
  • National Defence Forces
  • Military Intelligence Directorate
  • Political Security Directorate

See also

  • Battle of Tell Abyad (2013)
  • 2015 Idlib offensive
  • Raqqa campaign (2016–2017)



  • 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. ISBN 978-0-19-061318-1.

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Raqqa campaign (2012–2013) by Wikipedia (Historical)