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US-backed Syrian democratic forces confirm having captured IS-held Raqqa

IS captured Raqa in 2014 and transformed it into the Syrian capital of its self-styled "caliphate" in Syria & Iraq

AFP | PTI  |  Beirut 

File Photo: ISIS attackers (Photo: PTI/AP)
File Photo: ISIS attackers (Photo: PTI/AP)

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said today they had fully captured the group's former Syrian stronghold Raqqa, after more than four months of fighting.

"Everything is finished in Raqqa, our forces have taken full control of Raqqa," SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP.

"The military operations in Raqqa have finished, but there are clearing operations now underway to uncover any sleeper cells there might be and remove mines," he added.

"Soon there will be an official statement announcing the liberation of the city."

The city's capture comes after the SDF today seized the last two remaining IS positions in Raqqa, the national hospital and the municipal stadium.

Yesterday, the SDF had taken the infamous Al-Naim traffic circle, dubbed the "Roundabout of Hell" by residents under IS rule because the jihadists used it for public beheadings and crucifixions.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, began their operation to drive IS from Raqqa last November, spending months encircling the city before breaking into it in June.

Over the course of four months, they captured some 90 per cent of the city, but operations were paused last week to allow local officials to negotiate the evacuation of thousands of trapped civilians.

Under the agreement, several hundred and family members also left remaining jihadist positions, leaving only an estimated 300 foreign fighters in the city.

IS captured Raqqa in 2014 and transformed it into the de facto Syrian capital of its self-styled "caliphate" in and

The city became synonymous with the worst of the group's abuses, as well as a planning centre for abroad.

First Published: Tue, October 17 2017. 17:47 IST