RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – The Islamic State (IS) militants in the besieged city of Raqqa have been contained to a small pocket of their former Syrian capital, a spokesperson for operation by the US-backed, Kurdish-led forces said on Tuesday.
In an exclusive statement for Kurdistan 24, Jihan Sheikh Ahmad, a spokesperson from the Raqqa battle operations room, said the jihadist group is in its last line of defense.
“Daesh [IS] is besieged in a small space, less than 10% of Raqqa and our forces will announce the good news – Raqqa's liberation – soon,” she said. The operation was launched by the US-backed, People's Protection Units (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in June.
Sheikh Ahmad added that the SDF repelled two car bomb attacks from IS in what is becoming a last-ditch effort by the militants to maintain a foothold in Raqqa.
“Their militants and mercenaries are not withdrawing at all, and they are sending suicide bombers and car bombs,” she said.
Sheikh Ahmad further pointed out that the last few days of the battle have been hard for the SDF fighters as IS militants are furiously fighting back.
“We, as part of a comprehensive operation, are required to fight with a high morale until the last moment,” she said.
Sheikh Ahmad said the liberation of Raqqa would soon be announced to people in the region and the world
“This good news will not be for our people only, but for the whole world and international community,” she said.
The SDF, of which the Kurdish YPG is a leading component, launched the last phase of the Raqqa operation on Sunday.
So far, they have rescued dozens of civilians who were meant to be used by IS as human shields.
The SDF in an online statement on Sunday said they are fighting in the center of the northern city, focused on surrounding the sports stadium and the national hospital.
Raqqa was IS’ de facto Syrian capital and center of operations where it oversaw the management of much of eastern, central, and northern Syria, and planned attacks abroad.
Editing by G.H. Renaud
(Kurdistan 24 correspondent Redwan Bezar conducted the interview in Raqqa)