Controlling the southern neighborhoods of Al-Raqqah city tightens the grip on ISIS at the heart of the city
Violent clashes continue to take place in Al-Raqqah city, which used to be the main stronghold of ISIS in Syria, between ISIS members on one hand and the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the US Special Forces and the International Coalition warplanes on the other. The SOHR learned from several reliable sources that clashes are still concentrated in the southern part of the city and that the SDF managed to make an important advancement during the last few hours of last night. They managed to advance into and take control of huge parts of Hisham Ben Abel Malik neighborhood. Moreover, the SDF that managed to take control of Nazlat Shhada neighborhood yesterday, managed to meet with the Forces coming from Hisham Ben Abel Malik neighborhood, after taking control of the main Political Security Building at the western outskirts of Hisham Ben Abel Malik neighborhood, which is adjacent to Nazlat Shhada neighborhood. Thus, the SDF now have full control over the southern part of the city, which is opposite to the northern banks of the Euphrates.
The SOHR learned that the clashes, accompanied by intensive bombardments and strikes by the International Coalition, enabled the SDF to take control of the shrines of ‘Ammar Ben Yasser and Uwais Al-Qarni located near Bab Baghdad area at the outskirts of the Old City Walls. Meanwhile, the SDF are still trying to take full control of the neighborhood, as part of their attempts to advance into and move deeper towards Al-Raqqah city center.
The SOHR published yesterday, Monday the 31st of July 2017, that the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the International Coalition warplanes managed to make a new advancement and take full control of Nazlat Shhada neighborhood and started its inspections operations in the areas into which they advanced. Thus, they reduced the distance separating them from their forces in Hisham Ben Abel Malik neighborhood, who have been advancing into and taking control of other parts of the neighborhood. In case the two groups coming from the east and the west of the city managed to advance and meet, they would have been able to fully control the southern part of Al-Raqqah city, thus tightening the grip on ISIS inside the city.
The SOHR also observed an attempt by the SDF to take control of the Cultural Center and to reach the center of ISIS capital, thus minimizing the scope of ISIS control in its main stronghold. Violent clashes between both parties were accompanied by intensive shelling by the International Coalition warplanes and the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces, amid clashes in other areas in the city, mainly in the Old City and Bareed Al-Dar’eiyah neighborhood. Casualties were reported as a result of the continued clashes and exchange of shelling between both parties. The SOHR documented that the airstrikes of the International Coalition warplanes, the intensive shelling on the city of Al-Raqqah and its outskirts, and the military operations taking place in the city, including bombardments, bombings and clashes with the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces, which are formed of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Syrian Elite Forces and the US Special Forces backed by the Coalition’s warplanes, since the beginning of the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah on the 6th of June 2017 until the 31st of 2017, have killed at least 807 fighters. On one hand, the death of at least 551 members of the “Islamic State” organization, including local commanders and group commanders, has been documented by SOHR. In addition, information about more casualties among ISIS and the injury of tens of others was confirmed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented over the same period of time the death of 256 fighters of the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces, including 2 fighters of the Syrian Elite Forces and 4 fighters of American, Georgian and British nationalities. The rest are fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are mainly formed of the YPG, and fighters of Manbij Military Council, who were killed in bombardments and bombings and during clashes with the “Islamic State” organization in the city of Al-Raqqah and the southern banks of the Euphrates.