Al-Raqqah city, which used to be the stronghold of the “Islamic State” organization just before the start of the grand battle about 15 weeks ago, is now on the verge of ending the last chapters of the “Euphrates Wrath” operation, which was launched on the 6th of November 2017, and took control of large areas of the western countryside of Deir Ezzor and the entire northern countryside and large parts of the eastern countryside as well as more than two thirds of Al-Raqqah city, where the violent clashes continue between the Syria Democratic Forces supported by the US Special Forces against members of the “Islamic State” organization in areas in in the center of Al-Raqqah and its surroundings, and the Syria Democratic Forces are trying to achieve more advancement in the area to end the organization’s presence in the area and expel it from its main stronghold and capital.
Reliable sources asserted to the SOHR that the number of members of ISIS is dramatically decreasing and the number of remained ISIS members estimated to be 300 to 400 fighters in the city, after the deaths of hundreds of members in the past few weeks, where the organization could no longer withstand in Al-Raqqah city because its stockpile of military equipment and weapons started running out as well as its stored food items, where sources of the Observatory confirmed that the organization sometimes carries out infiltrations into sites of the Syria Democratic Forces in order to get water or food, also the sources informed the Syrian Observatory that what is delaying the control of “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces of Al-Raqqah city is the density of the mines planted by the “Islamic State” organization, and because the decision of International Coalition to take control of the city was delayed, in addition to that there are thousands of civilians who are being used as human shields by the organization, and if the Syria Democratic Forces and the International Coalition take the decision of controlling Al-Raqqah city, then, the Grand Raqqah Operation may be completed in the coming days and weeks.
While the sources said that the members of the organization blow themselves up even before the arrival of the SDF and the US Special Forces to the areas close to them, and the people attributed this to the psychological conditions and the pressure they suffer due to the tightening up on them and because there is no way out of this city, where the Syria Democratic Forces are now in control of 67.2% of Al-Raqqah city, and now the organization controls less than one-third of the city, as it controls Andalos, Shamal Sekket al-Qitar, Huriyah, Teshreen and Tawassoiya in the northern part of Raqqa city, while ISIS still controls with varying percentages other neighborhoods, where clashes between the SDF against ISIS are taking place, they are al-Bareed and al-Nahda in the western part of the city, and the neighborhoods of al-Amin in the center of the city of Raqqa, and al-Rawda and al-Rumaila northeast of Raqqa city, while the SDF controlled the neighborhoods of Sabahiya, Romaniya, Hutteen, Qadisiyah, Yarmouk, and al-Karim west of Raqqa city, the neighborhoods of Hisham Abdul Malik, Nazlat Shhada in the southern part of the city, and al-Sena’aa, al-Mashlab and the Old City and al-Batani in the eastern part of the city, and the neighborhoods of Dar’eiyah, Morur, al-Mansour and al-Thakanah. The SDF also reached the outskirts of the neighborhoods of al-Amin and controlled parts of the neighborhoods of Rumila, Rawda, Bareed and al-Nahda.
The battles in al-Raqqah city between the SDF backed by the US Special Forces against ISIS caused more causalities among civilians, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of 1059 citizens including an activist in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 247 children and 176 citizen women, they were killed in Al-Raqqah city and its countryside since the 5th of June 2017 until the 17th of September 2017, and the casualties are 1043 citizens including 244 children at least under the age of eighteen and 172 citizen women over the age of eighteen, they were killed in Al-Raqqah city, in addition to 16 citizens including 3 children and 4 citizen women were killed by raids on Zor Shammar village and another area on the southern banks of the Euphrates River in the eastern countryside of Al-Raqqah, the air strikes also resulted in the injury of hundreds of citizens with varying degrees of severity, some of them have amputated limbs and permanent disabilities, while some of the injuries are still in serious cases, which may lead to the increase of the number of casualties, while dozens of houses and service facilities were destroyed in the city, as a result of this intensive bombing, which targeted Al-Raqqah city and its vicinity and outskirts.
The SOHR also documented that the international coalition airstrikes and the heavy bombardment on al-Raqqa city and its outskirts along with the military offensives in the city that included shelling, bombings and clashes with the “Euphrates Wrath” Operations Forces, which is composed of the Syria Democratic Forces, the Syrian Elite Forces, and the US Special Forces backed by the International Coalition’s warplanes caused – since the launching of the battle until today the 6th of September 2017 until today the 17th of September 2017– the death of at least 1192 members of the “Islamic State” organization including two local figures and commanders of groups, amid confirmed information about death of other members, in addition to injuring tens of them with varying degrees of severity.
Also, the SOHR documented in the same period the death of 551 fighters of the “Euphrates Wrath” including 2 fighters from the Syrian Elites Forces, a Syriac Security Force fighter, 5 fighters of American, Georgian, British and Turkish nationalities, while the rest of them are from the Syria Democratic Forces, whose main pillar is the YPG, and fighters of Manbij Military Council, who were killed during clashes against the “Islamic State” organization and due to bombings in al-Raqqa city and the southern banks of Euphrates River.
Also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of at least 134 civilians including 31 child and 7 citizen women in mine explosions while they were trying to get out of areas controlled by the “Islamic State” organization in Al-Raqqah city, to areas controlled by the SDF since the 5th of June 2017 until today the 17th of September 2017, in addition to the injury of tens of other civilians.