RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Kurdish-Arab Alliance fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria on Sunday said they paused their operations in the city of Raqqa, the militants’ de facto Syrian capital of their self-proclaimed caliphate.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on both fronts, east and west of the city, said they slowed down the fight on one front and halted clashes on the others.
“The operations against [IS] have stopped since last week in some parts of the city, but we are preparing for a greater battle once we resume fighting,” Kendal, an SDF fighter, told Kurdistan 24.
“We hope to be able to announce the liberation of the entire city of Raqqa to our people soon,” he added.
Kendal further explained the situation on both fronts against IS in the city.
“Fighting on the west side halted as our comrades prepare for the fiercest fight,” he said. “On the east side, our comrades are advancing slowly, experiencing a few clashes with the enemy.”
Another SDF fighter, Assad Hamid, told Kurdistan 24 the fighting had not halted on all fronts.
He explained that in the west and south of the city, intense fighting in cooperation and coordination with US-led coalition air strikes occurred in the old town, Hisham Bin Abdulmalek, and Rawda neighborhoods.
“We advanced toward the national hospital yesterday, and today, we will control it, God willing,” Hamid said.
“Then, we will carry on with our progress to eliminate the IS terror group,” he declared.
Since the beginning of the operation in Raqqa last month, SDF fighters announced they liberated eight neighborhoods from all sides of the city, and are currently fighting in another six.
Since the SDF began their siege on Raqqa two weeks ago, they opened a new front crossing the Euphrates River and expanding south of Raqqa where the Syrian government forces and their allies are fighting IS and advancing north.
The Syrian army has active front lines with IS in southwestern Raqqa Province and made recent gains there on Saturday.
Editing by G.H. Renaud and Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Redwan Bezar, Kurdistan 24 correspondence in Raqqa)