Violent fighting in Al-Raqqah city center and continued clashes in Albu Sarayah Alley in the Old Town • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Violent fighting in Al-Raqqah city center and continued clashes in Albu Sarayah Alley in the Old Town

ISIS continues to fight to keep the parts remaining under its control in the city amid the people’s resentment against its accusations 

International Coalition warplanes continue to hover in the skies of Al-Raqqah city, amid continued fighting between the SDF backed by the US Special Forces on one hand and ISIS on the other in areas in Al-Raqqah city. The SOHR learned that the fighting is concentrated in areas that are still under the control of ISIS in the old city, specifically in Albu Sarayah Alley. It should be noted that the SDF had taken control of 90% of the Old City area on the 29th of August 2017. The remaining area is witnessing violent fighting in an attempt by the SDF to take full control of the Old City. The SOHR also learned that violent clashes continue to take place between both parties in Al-Morour neighborhood after the SDF managed to take control of about half of its area yesterday. Clashes also continue in Al-Dar’iyah neighborhood into which the regime forces advanced and managed to take control of its southern part. In addition, clashes, with a varied pace of violence, continue in Al-Ameen neighborhood in Al-Raqqah city center.

Continued clashes in ISIS previous stronghold are accompanied by shelling, with a varied pace of violence, by the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces and the International Coalition warplanes on ISIS-controlled areas in the city in which thousands of civilians are suffering from deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Meanwhile, people’s resentment towards ISIS is increasing as a result of the accusations it made against them of “inaction and espionage” in addition to the fact that it escalated its security operations and executions of anyone proved to have any contact with the International Coalition or the SDF. Meanwhile, hundreds of civilians are trying to flee ISIS-controlled areas to SDF-controlled areas in search for a safe haven from the continued shelling on the city and from the rule of ISIS. Casualties were reported at both sides as a result of the ongoing clashes in the city.

The continued fighting divided the fronts in the city between two parties. On one hand, the SDF have managed to take control of 62.3% of Al-Raqqah city since the start of the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah on the 6th of June 2017. On the other hand, ISIS scope of control minimized as it only has control over the neighborhoods of Al-Andalus and north of Seket Al-Qitar, Al-Horiyah, Tshreen, Al-Tawsi’iyah in the northern section of Al-Raqqah city. In addition, ISIS still controls parts of other neighborhoods which witness clashes between the SDF and ISIS. These areas include the neighborhoods of Al-Bareed, Al-Nahdaa and Al-Dar’iyah in the western section of the city, the outskirts of Al-Mansour and Al-Ameen and Al-Morour and Al-Thakana neighborhoods in the city center in addition to Al-Rawda and Al-Ramliyah in the northeast part of Al-Raqqah. On the other hand, the SDF managed to take control of the neighborhoods of Al-Sabahiyah, Al-Romaniyah, Heteen, Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Yarmouk and Al-Karim, west of Al-Raqqah, the neighborhoods of Hisham Bin AbdelMalik and Nazlet Shehada in the southern section of the city, the neighborhoods of Al-Sinaa and Mashalb and 90% of the Old City, and Al-Batani in the eastern part of the city in addition to Al-Mansour neighborhood. They also managed to take control of about half of Al-Dar’iyah and Al-Morour neighborhoods and to reach the outskirts of Al-Ameen and Al-Thakana neighborhoods. Moreover, they took control of parts of Al-Ramliyah, Al-Rawda, Al-Bareed and Al-Nahda.

Amid such deteriorating humanitarian and security conditions inside Al-Raqqah – which left ISIS members demoralized –  fighting continues between the SDF backed by the US Special Forces on one hand and ISIS on the other in areas in Al-Morour neighborhood, in the western part of the city, and in the vicinity of the city center. Clashes are accompanied by shelling by the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces on areas in the city and airstrikes carried out by the International Coalition every now and then on civilians’ areas, causing more casualties. The SOHR documented the death of 23 persons, including 11 children and 3 women, as a result of shelling by the International Coalition warplanes that targeted Al-Raqqah center. Their bodies have been recovered and identified by their relatives and it turned out that most of them belong to the same family.  Thus, the civilian fatalities, documented by the SOHR in Al-Raqqah city and countryside since the 5th of June until the 1st of September 2017, increased to at least 855, including an SOHR activist, 215 children and 135 women. Specifically, 839 civilians, including at least 214 children below the age of 18 and 131 women above the age of 18, were killed in Al-Raqqah city. In addition, 16 civilians, including 3 children and 4 women, were killed in raids on Zour Shamar village and another area at the southern banks of the Euphrates in the eastern countryside of Al-Raqqah. Airstrikes also left hundreds of civilians injured with varied degrees of severity, some of whom had their limbs amputated and some suffered permanent disabilities and others are still in critical conditions, which indicate that the death toll is likely to rise again. Moreover, dozens of houses and public utilities were destroyed as a result of the intensive shelling that targeted the city, its surroundings and outskirts. 

High-resolution link to a map showing areas controlled by the SDF and ISIS