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SDF advance in a new neighborhood in Al-Raqqah city and hundreds of civilians flee ISIS-controlled areas in the city

Al-Raqqah Province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:  the International Coalition warplanes continue to carry out new airstrikes targeting ISIS-controlled areas and positions in Al-Raqqah city, causing the death of 3 persons, including two female citizens, and several injuries. The SOHR learned that the violent clashes are still taking place between the Syria Democratic Forces backed by the US Special Forces on one hand and ISIS on the other in areas in the Old City and Yarmouk neighborhood, south of the city. The SOHR also learned that the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces managed to advance and take control of the western part of Yarmouk neighborhood. Meanwhile, clashes continue between both parties in an attempt by the factions to make a new advancement and expand their area of control and thus minimize ISIS-controlled areas. Cross-sources confirmed to the SOHR that hundreds of families managed to flee ISIS-controlled areas in Al-Raqqah city during the last 48 hours to SDF-controlled areas at the outskirts of the city and in its vicinity. In addition, the SOHR published on the 12th of July 2017 that hundreds of civilians, including children and female citizens, managed within 48 hours prior to that date to flee ISIS-controlled areas to areas controlled by the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces, west of Aleppo, and they all managed to reach SDF-controlled areas. The SOHR also learned that the number of civilians in ISIS-controlled areas in the city is estimated to be tens of thousands of children, female citizens, young men, and men who were caught between the International Coalition shelling and military operations on one hand and the “Islamic State” organization, which is using them as human shields on the other.

On the other hand, ISIS blew up a booby-trapped car targeting an SDF position in Al-Ekirshi area, the control of which was seized by the SDF few days ago. As a result, at least five SDF members were killed. The SOHR published on Monday, the 10th of July 2017, that the Syria Democratic Forces and Al-Manbij Military council managed to fully control Al-Ekirshi town, which used to contain an ISIS Training Camp known as “Al-Sheikh Osama Ben Laden Camp” where they carried out the largest mass execution of their own members in the second half of 2015. With such an advancement, the SDF now have full control over an area of more than 80 km of the southern banks of the Euphrates, extending from al-Boasi area in the western countryside of Al-Tabaqa city to east of Al-Ekirshi town. The SOHR published then that a dissident Syrian ISIS commander informed it that ISIS executed more than 200 of its members, of Chechen and Central Asian nationalities. That source, who is a former second-line commander in ISIS, confirmed that those members were on the verge of dissenting from the organization and joining Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda in the Levant) when they got exposed by the security command of the organization. The dissidents, who tried to escape, were taken to Al-Ekirshi area where the camp is located in Al-Raqqah countryside and where they were executed, and then their bodies were dumped in Al-Houta area in Al-Raqqah countryside, where there is a natural hole that ISIS turned into a body dump since it took control of the area.