ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are now in control of over two-thirds of the Syrian city of Raqqa as they continue to progress in their fight against the Islamic State (IS), a monitoring group said on Thursday.
The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), began their offensive against IS in Raqqa in early June.
Months before their advance, with support from the US-led coalition, the Kurdish-led forces surrounded the city, IS’ de facto capital and last remaining major stronghold in Syria.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group, said the SDF now “controls 70 percent of Raqqa.”
The forces recently liberated the al-Thakana district in the center of the city from the militant group, according to Rahman.
“The advance was made possible by violent clashes and heavy air strikes by the international coalition,” he told AFP.
The director added the campaign against IS in Raqqa had “entered its final phase,” as the extremists continue to lose grip of territory in Syria.
“The end of fighting will be dictated by the international coalition,” Rahman noted. “Air power will be the main determining factor.”
The Kurdish-led forces are also battling the extremist group in a separate campaign in the Deir al-Zor Province, southeast of Raqqa, near the Iraqi border.
Regarding the security of civilians trapped in the city, the director said tens of thousands of people had fled the fighting since the SDF began their offensive.
According to UN statistics, nearly 25,000 people remained trapped in the city, but Rahman said the number is now fewer than 10,000.
Editing by G.H. Renaud