SDF Seizes 'Full Control' of Syria's Raqqa from ISIS

SDF Seizes 'Full Control' of Syria's Raqqa from ISIS

The US officials announced on Monday that the SDF controlled around 85 per cent of the city, but BBC reporters who entered Raqqa a few hours later claim the city is now quiet - there are no clashes, shelling, bombardment or gunfire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that regime forces had brought the entire area stretching between Deir Ezzor and Mayadeen under their control following a major military offensive. From the city, the group planned attacks overseas.

A Reuters witness says the fighting appears to be nearly at an end, with only sporadic bursts of gunfire.

The preparations for Raqqa offensive started in November 2016, when the SDF, supported by the US-led coalition's air force, started encircling the city, aiming to cut it off from the rest of the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate.

"The group showed off its might in this square".

Fighting on Monday night and Tuesday has focused on Raqqa's National Hospital and the nearby city stadium, two central positions in which IS was well entrenched.

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ISIS has lost swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq this year, including its most prized possession, Mosul, and in Syria it has been forced back into a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert.

"The battle will continue until the whole city is clean", said a statement by the Syrian Democratic Forces said, the ABC reported.

"22 foreign mercenaries were killed", the SDF said.

Another field commander, who gave his name as Abjal al-Syriani, said SDF fighters had found burned weapons and documents in the stadium.

The SDF has been supported by a US -led worldwide coalition with air strikes and special forces on the ground since it started the battle for Raqqa city in early June.

As the sun was setting over Raqa's west Monday, a group of fighters gathered for the dabkeh-the jumpy line dance traditional in the Middle East-to celebrate their native city's near-recapture.

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