SDF advance and control by firearm new positions in al-Raqqa city and the violent clashes are still ongoing on several fronts in the city
The International coalition’s airstrikes and the ongoing killing increase the suffering of the people of the city and force them to pass through death to get rid of death
Al-Raqqa province, which used to be the stronghold of the “Islamic State” organization in Syria, of which the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces has controlled about 57% days ago, is witnessing today the 17th of August 2017 continued clashes between members of the “Islamic State” organization against members of the Syria Democratic Forces supported by the US Special Forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored heavy fighting in the Old City as the Syria Democratic Forces are trying to advance in the area at the expense of the organization, in conjunction with the clashes in the area of Rawdah northwest of the city, and violent clashes are taking place in the north of the southern part of the city of al-Raqqa, which is controlled by the SDF, where the SDF managed to control by fire al-Sa’ah roundabout and the province building, while the clashes are still taking place in areas in the vicinity of the center of al-Raqqa city from the western side, as each party is trying to advance at the expense of the other. The organization tends to carry out violent and rebel attacks, through sneaking into the tunnels which were dug earlier, in addition to its reliance on the car bombs and explosive belts and mines which were heavily planted earlier as well as the snipers which were also deployed earlier.
This violent clashes which are taking place in the city of al-Raqqa, are accompanied by heavy and violent shelling by the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces and the heavy bombardment of the International Coalition, amid an exchange of shelling between both sides on the clash areas, cause causalities in the ranks of both sides. The SOHR documented the death of at least 20 members of the “Islamic State” organization, in addition to the injuries of tens of them of varying severity, while at least 7 fighters of the SDF were killed and others were injured in these clashes. The clashes also coincided with shelling and attempts by the civilians to reach safe places away from the shelling, death, hunger which are escalating in the city. The SOHR learned that hundreds of civilians managed to flee within the past 48 hours from the areas controlled by the organization in al-Raqqa city, and managed to reach the SDF-held area in the city and its outskirts and vicinity.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published today morning that the International Coalition escalated their shelling during the past few days on Al-Raqqah city, which used to be the main stronghold of ISIS in Syria, causing more casualties among civilians, who are trapped between the hammer of the “Islamic State” organization and the anvil of the International Coalition. Tens of thousands of civilians are still besieged in the center of Al-Raqqah. If they manage to escape from the shelling of the International Coalition, they might fall victim to the landmines planted by ISIS to prevent the forces operating as part of the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah from advancing again. It should be noted that such forces aim at expelling ISIS from the city and taking full control of it.
The SOHR learned that recovery operations were conducted to pull out the dead bodies of the civilians who were killed as a result of the International Coalition airstrikes on neighborhoods in Al-Raqqah. The SOHR activists observed the recovery of the dead bodies of 21 martyrs, including 11 children below the age of 18 and 5 women. The International Coalition had shelled the day before yesterday, Tuesday the 15th of August 2017, Al-Moataz Street in Al-Rasheed area in the Old City, located in Al-Raqqah city center. Thus, the number of civilian fatalities, documented so far by the SOHR as a result of Tuesday shelling, rose to at least 25, including 13 children and 6 women who belong to several families. The death toll increased when more bodies of the martyrs were pulled out of the rubble caused by the shelling in Al-Moataz Street. Thus, the number of fatalities documented by the SOHR since the afternoon of Monday, the 14th of August 2017, rose to at least 59, including 21 children below the age of 18 and 9 women above the age of 18. The death toll is still likely to rise because some of the injured are in a critical condition and some are still missing, whether they were killed or are still alive is still unknown.