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US backed forces secure 'control' of Raqqa

Militants fire at Daesh positions near the Raqqa highway [Abkhazian Network/Wikipedia]
Militants fire at Daesh positions near the Raqqa highway [Abkhazian Network/Wikipedia]

US backed forces have succeeded in eliminating nearly all Daesh fighters from the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced earlier today.

A witness told Reuters that fighting was almost at an end, with no air strikes taking place yesterday morning, for the first time in months. The militants' last bases in the city, a stadium and a hospital, were captured earlier this morning, leaving small clusters of fighters dispersed throughout the city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had launched a final assault on the city on Sunday, allowing some 3,000 fighters to leave the region. They took some 400 civilians with them as human shields. A smaller group was expected to stay behind in the city, thus shortening the battle.

Read: Submit or die, Iraqi army tells Daesh holdouts in Anbar

For three years Raqqa was the de facto capital of Daesh's self-declared caliphate, a centre of operations where it oversaw the management of vast swathes of eastern, central and northern Syria and planned attacks abroad.

The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, began its campaign to isolate Raqqa early this year, pushing along several fronts to enclose the city against the Euphrates backed by coalition air strikes and special forces.

Its attack on the city itself started in June and the fighting left much of Raqqa in ruins as intense air strikes and street-to-street battles devastated buildings.

Daesh has lost swathes of territory to the SDF and to a rival offensive by the Syrian Army and allied forces this year, and has fallen back to the fertile Euphrates valley area downstream of Raqqa.

Read: Syrian refugees return to areas liberated from Daesh

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