Raqqa to be freed within hours: Syrian Kurdish YPG



Sat, 14 Oct 2017 - 11:58 GMT


Sat, 14 Oct 2017 - 11:58 GMT

Damaged building are pictured during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria, August 19, 2017- Reuters

Damaged building are pictured during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria, August 19, 2017- Reuters

CAIRO – 14 October 2017: Islamic State (IS) is on the verge of defeat in Syria's Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists on within hours, sources from the Syrian Kurdish YPG said on Saturday.

A spokesman for the U.S.-backed forces fighting IS militants in Syria says the final battle to uproot the extremists from the northern city of Raqqa is under way, as dozens of IS fighters surrender.

“Raqqa city may be handed over as a liberated city to the Syria army by Monday,” Kurdish sources told Egypt Today.

“Raqqa will be fully liberated from IS militants within days or hours,” the sources said via Skype on Saturday.

The sources asserted that the coming hours will witness mediation by Syrian tribal leaders to allow some IS militants to leave the city, warning that some IS militants may take advantage of civilians as human shields.

Al-Arabiya channel reported that all Syrian IS militants had left Raqqa, but foreign militants were not allowed to leave the city. Moreover, Syrian army forces restored Al-Mayadeen town in Deir Azzour countryside from IS militants after fierce clashes.

On the other hand, the BBC denied media reports thatforeign nationals affiliated to IS had not been allowed to leave Raqqa.

On Friday, many news agencies revealed some 100 fighters from IS handed themselves over to the U.S.-backed fighters in Raqqa as fighting continued with remaining gunmen in a pocket inside the city.

Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said on Friday that the battle could take hours or days.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is an alliance of Arab and Kurdish militias dominated by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

The loss of Raqqa, once the de facto capital of its self-proclaimed caliphate, would deal a huge blow to the militant group.

Bali says IS militants are putting up a desperate resistance in a number of neighborhoods in the city.

However, the coalition said in an e-mailed statement that dozens of IS fighters have surrendered over the past day.

"Within the past 24 hours, approximately 100 ISIS terrorists have surrendered in Raqqa, and were removed from the city," the statement said.

The battle for Raqqa began in June, with heavy street-by-street fighting amid intense U.S.-led coalition air strikes and shelling. The battle has dragged on in the face of stiff resistance from militants and civilians trapped in the city.

However, the coalition says it controls about 90 percent of the city.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page on Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had already left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken to.



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