ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – US-backed, Kurdish-led forces are preparing for a final offensive on areas still held by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria’s Raqqa, a spokesperson for the group said on Monday.
Mustafa Bali of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) makes up a majority, said the operation would last between seven to ten days.
“The [SDF] are reinforcing positions ahead of the final attack on the city of Raqqa,” he told the Associated Press over the phone.
According to Bali, the extremist group still has hundreds of fighters in the city that was once their de facto capital in the country.
The SDF member emphasized that no time had been set for the attack, refuting reports an assault on the militant group had already begun.
Kurdish-led forces launched an offensive against IS in early June, advancing on the ground under the cover of US-led coalition air strikes.
So far, the SDF has liberated 80 percent of the city, with the extremist group only left with pockets of territory in the center and north of Raqqa under their control.
Meanwhile, a separate Kurdish-led operation against IS in Syria’s Deir al-Zor is underway.
Losing Raqqa and Deir al-Zor would be another significant blow to IS who continues to lose grip of territory in neighboring Iraq as well.
US-backed Kurdish and Iraqi forces continue to defeat the extremists in Iraq, recently liberating the city of Hawija after offensives in Tal Afar and Mosul, the group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
Editing by Ava Homa