Al-Raqqah city is free of ISIS and declaration of control bound to the sweep’s end
After the killing and death of about 3100 people of civilians and fighters, ISIS loses its main stronghold and capital in Syria
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned from several reliable sources that the presence of the “Islamic State” organization had ended in Al-Raqqah city, which used to be its stronghold and former capital in Syria, the sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the remaining members of the “Islamic State” organization are still in hiding in cellars and dungeons in the area between the Municipal Stadium and the Air Intelligence in Al-Raqqah city. This comes 108 days after the start of the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah which was announced on the 6th of June 2017, the aim of which was to expel the “Islamic State” organization completely out of Al-Raqqah city and control it by the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces led by the Syria Democratic Forces and with the support of the US special forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned from reliable sources that the Syria Democratic Forces and the US Special Forces have started sweeping operations for the entire city, where the density of mines planted by the “Islamic State” organization is hampering the Syria Democratic Forces from finishing the sweep operations quickly, also the extensive destruction of more than 80% of Al-Raqqah city hampers the arrival of forces to the entire streets and roads of the city, also the sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that declaring the control of the entire city will come after the end of the sweep operations in the city, and after controlling the narrow spot in which hidden members of the organized may exist.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights during published in the past few days the number of members of ISIS is dramatically decreasing 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.
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 1071 citizens including an activist in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 249 children and 179 citizen women, they were killed in Al-Raqqah city and its countryside since the 5th of June 2017 until the 21st of September 2017, and the casualties are 1055 citizens including 246 children at least under the age of eighteen and 175 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 21st of September 2017– the death of at least 1291 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 574 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 139 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 21st of September 2017, in addition to the injury of tens of other civilians, with varying degrees of severity and permanent disability.
High resolution link of Syria Democratic Forces’ control map in Al-Raqqah city with the exception of a narrow spot where members of the “Islamic State” organization may be located