ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday declared full victory over the Islamic State (IS) in Syria’s Raqqa after a four-month battle.
Jihan Shiekh Ahmed, an official SDF spokesperson for the Raqqa campaign, of which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) make up a majority, said the fighting against extremists was over.
“Our forces liberated the city center and all the centers and facilities where the terrorists were holed up,” the statement read.
SDF spokesperson Talal Silo confirmed to Kurdistan 24 that Raqqa was liberated and an official statement would be released soon once the city was cleared of mines and possible IS sleeper cells.
The Kurdish-led forces have been battling the militant group in Raqqa, its de facto capital and last major stronghold in Syria, since June.
The extremist group used Raqqa as a control center to plan terror attacks abroad.
Since the start of the year, IS has lost substantial amounts of territory in both Iraq and Syria where they have been forced back into a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert.
SDF fighters celebrated in the streets, tearing down one of the last remaining black flags of IS on the National Hospital building.
Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the US-led anti-IS coalition, said there was still work to be done to ensure the safety of civilians in the city despite the defeat of the militant group.
“We know there are still [Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)] and booby traps in and among the areas that [IS] once held, so the SDF will continue to clear deliberately through areas,” he informed.
Dillon also mentioned there were no coalition air strikes in Raqqa on Monday, an indication the long battle against one of the world’s most feared terror groups is coming to an end.