Has the attack on the ISIS capital in Syria begun? Troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), consisting of Sunni tribesmen trained, armed and directed by the US military, launched an operation on Wednesday to take over roads leading to Raqqa. According to reports by Arab sources, the SDF fighters are moving in three main groups but are still 60 kilometers north of the city. As DEBKAfile reported, the commander of US forces in the Middle East, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, made a secret visit to Syria on May 21, the first of its kind by a senior American officer since the start of the country's civil war in 2011. He visited US special forces troops at Rmelan base, 288 kilometers northeast of Raqqa, as well as the Kurdish YPG militia.