US-backed Syria force ad­vances in south of IS bas­tion Raqa

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

Beirut, Le­banon - US-backed forces bat­tling to oust the Is­lamic State group from its Syr­ian bas­tion Raqa have ad­vanced in the city’s south, seiz­ing a new neigh­bour­hood, a spokesman and mon­i­tor said on Tues­day.

The Kur­dish-Arab Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces militia (SDF) be­gan a cam­paign to cap­ture Raqa from IS last year, slowly en­cir­cling the city be­fore break­ing into it for the first time in June.

Backed by US-led coali­tion airstrikes, the al­liance now con­trols more than 50 per cent of the city, ac­cord­ing to the Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, a Bri­tain-based mon­i­tor.

“Overnight, the SDF ad­vanced in the south of the city, after tak­ing con­trol of the Na­zlet Sha­hada neigh­bour­hood,” said Ob­ser­va­tory di­rec­tor Rami Ab­del Rah­man.

He said SDF fight­ers also con­trolled large parts of the ad­ja­cent neigh­bour­hood of Hisham bin Ab­del Ma­lik, after ad­vanc­ing in the south from both the eastern and west­ern fronts. “Daesh (IS) ef­fec­tively no longer has a pres­ence in the south­ern neigh­bour­hoods of Raqa, after SDF forces com­ing from the eastern front met with those ad­vanc­ing from the west­ern front,” he added.

Nuri Mah­mud, a spokesman for the Kur­dish YPG militia that dom­i­nates the SDF, con­firmed to AFP that the SDF was ad­vanc­ing in the south.

“Daesh has been al­most com­pletely elim­i­nated from the Na­zlet Sha­hada and Hisham bin Ab­del Ma­lik neigh­bour­hoods,” he added.

Writ­ing on Twit­ter, the US en­voy to the in­ter­na­tional coali­tion against IS praised the SDF’s ad­vances.

‘Sig­nif­i­cant progress in Raqa last 24 hours, with key ter­ri­tory seized by SDF forces & 100s of civil­ians freed’, Brett McGurk wrote.

Ab­del Rah­man said the fight­ing was now cen­tred around the area south of the city cen­tre and on the out­skirts of the district of Hisham bin Ab­del Ma­lik.

(AFP)

Mem­bers of the US-backed Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces move through de­stroyed build­ings, in Raqa on July 28

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