ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Kurdish-led forces on Monday said they had recaptured a neighborhood from the Islamic State (IS) in Raqqa, northern Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised of Kurdish and Arab fighters, have been engaged in an ongoing operation to liberate the city from the militants since last year.
“The Al-Yarmuk district was liberated yesterday,” the SDF spokeswoman for the Raqqa operation Jihan Sheikh Ahmed told AFP.
The district of Al-Yarmuk is located on the southwestern outskirts of the city, IS’ largest stronghold in the country.
Ahmed also addressed the progress the Kurdish-led forces, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its female branch, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), were making.
“The operation is continuing, but there are many fierce clashes,” she revealed.
The spokeswoman provided the update from the town of Ain Issa, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Raqqa.
“We are taking steady and sound steps,” she added. “What is important to us is not speed, but liberating civilians and eliminating [IS].”
According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the SDF had advanced in Al-Yarmuk but were not in full control of the area.
Heavy clashes were ongoing as the forces took control of the western side of the district, the group explained.
Within the last 48 hours, hundreds of civilians continued to flee IS-held districts in the city toward SDF controlled ones.
The Kurdish-led forces are now in control of roughly 35 percent of Raqqa as IS' grip in the region diminishes.
The Raqqa offensive, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, began in November 2016 as the SDF first surrounded the city before eventually breaching its perimeter last month.
Editing by G.H. Renaud