UPDATE — 10/20, 9:33 a.m. EDT: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced Friday that the former ISIS capital city of Raqqa has been liberated from the terrorist military group.
“We proudly announce today from the heart of the city of Raqqa the victory of our forces in the major battle to defeat the ISIS terror organization, which we defeated in the capital of its alleged caliphate,” SDF said in statement.
ISIS forces had been in control of the northern Syrian town since 2014.
Four months after reaching the city’s outskirts, a U.S.-backed force of Syrian militia has declared the Islamic State (ISIS) bastion of Raqqa free of its jihadist occupiers.
Once the de-facto capital of the Salafi terror group, ISIS’ defeat in Raqqa concludes a four-month siege and brings to an end three years of ISIS domination. Under a negotiated agreement, some 200 ISIS terrorists agreed to surrender and were bused from the jurisdiction.
Celebrating its defeat over the militant group, Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance made up of Kurdish, Arab and Syriac troops, raised the group’s yellow flag at Al-Naim Square, once the site of the terror group’s main venue for staging public executions.
Describing a Syria in which ISIS is “losing its grip,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said:
“After more than four months of operations, Raqqa is more than 90 percent cleared. We are aware of the reports that ISIS [Daesh] has been defeated in Raqqa however clearance operations continue and we expect our SDF partners to hit pockets of resistance as the final parts of the city are cleared.”
Despite clearing the city of ISIS, U.S. military and SDF spokespersons did state SDF forces were in the midst of removing countless improvised explosive devices and securing areas in which ISIS sleeper cells were suspected of being holed up.
Similarly, for the first time in months, no U.S.-coalition airstrikes were carried out over the city, a further indication remaining ISIS resistance had waned.
The latest in a string of devastating blows to the caliphate, ISIS now controls only several districts within the Deir ez-Zor Governorate and desert to claim as its empire.
[The Telegraph] [Sputnik] [ABC News] [Photo courtesy Reuters via The Express]