ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria’s Raqqa is expected to end within two months, according to a top-ranking Kurdish commander.
Newruz Ahmed, a member of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) military council, said she expects the battle against the extremist group to intensify.
“We cannot determine the time period in which the battle of Raqqa will end precisely because war has its conditions,” Ahmed told Reuters.
“We do not expect it to last long and, according to our plans, the battle will not take longer than two months from now,” she added.
The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), have liberated over 60 percent of Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital and last major stronghold in Syria.
The US-backed Kurdish forces advanced into Raqqa in June after months of battling militants in surrounding areas.
Regarding the liberation of Deir al-Zor, a province near the Iraq border and under IS control, Ahmed emphasized the SDF were focused on overthrowing the extremist group in Raqqa first.
“There are demands for us [SDF] to free Deir al-Zor, and we are currently studying this,” she noted.
Ahmed said the SDF forces have been conscious of an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 civilians who remain trapped in the city.
“During our incursions, we try to open safe passages for them so they would not be a target of our attacks,” she said.
The Kurdish commander said she estimated the militant group had nearly 1,000 fighters remaining in Raqqa, mainly in the center of the city.
She also warned IS would continue fighting “until the end,” with many of its remaining militants in Raqqa foreign fighters who will carry out suicide attacks.
Editing by G.H. Renaud