DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — The units of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have gained full control of areas surrounding the Daesh jihadist group's (IS, banned in Russia) stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria, an SDF operation spokeswoman said Thursday.
"Our forces have tightened the noose on Raqqa," Jihane Sheikh Ahmad told the Al-Monitor online daily. "Within a short period, we took complete control of Raqqa’s countryside and liberated hundreds of villages and strategic hills."
She said the SDF and its Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) military wing reached the Euphrates from the east and Euphrates Dam from the northwest.
"We have advanced thanks to the increasing air support and military participation from the international alliance," Ahmad said, estimating that the battle to liberate Raqqa would take months, "but definitely not years."
The offensive to liberate Raqqa from Daesh, codenamed Operation Euphrates Rage, was launched by the SDF on November 5, 2016.
The civil war in Syria has been lasting for around six years with government troops fighting against numerous opposition factions and terror organizations such as al-Nusra Front and Daesh, outlawed in Russia.
The nationwide Syrian ceasefire regime was introduced on December 30, 2016. Terrorist organizations are not part of the ceasefire.