US-backed forces control some 65% of Raqqa

The Syrian Democratic Forces alliance moved through the southern neighborhoods of Raqqa, as the local US-coalition backed forces continue their assault on the extreme Muslim militants in the area. Officials note, however, that the advance in the multi-phased Raqqa offensive are proceeding cautiously, as the Islamic State uses snipers, car bombs and booby traps in their ongoing efforts to exert high loses from the SDF forces. The SDF fighters say they are close to capturing the old neighborhoods of Raqqa from the Islamic State, but added that full liberation of the city may take several months. Gabar Derik, an SDF field commander said, “According to our predictions, (the battle) may go on for 3 or 4 months until the city is fully liberated. But with regards to the old town of Raqqa, it is almost completely liberated. Almost 65 percent of old Raqqa is liberated,” he asserted.

Backed by air strikes and coalition special forces, units of the SDF, an alliance dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, encircled Islamic State militants in the southern districts of Raqqa last week and have been fighting since June to clear the extreme Muslim group from its de facto capital in Syria. The US coalition and its allies declared on several occasions that they are taking all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties although the United Nations reported coalition air strikes have killed at least 300 civilians in Raqqa since the month of March.