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Syrian Army 18 Miles From Daesh-Held Raqqa, Could Liberate City Within Hours

© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Go to the photo bankSyrian army troops during an assault on the city of Halfaya in the north of the Hama Governorate
Syrian army troops during an assault on the city of Halfaya in the north of the Hama Governorate - Sputnik International
The city of Raqqa, which is considered to be Daesh militants' major stronghold in Syria, could be liberated within five hours by the Syrian army that is stationed 30 kilometers away from the city, a Syrian army brigadier general told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Smoke rises from the Raqqa province Syria. (File) - Sputnik International
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DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — The Syrian army is currently located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away from the city of Raqqa, controlled by the Daesh terrorist group (outlawed in Russia), a Syrian army brigadier general said, adding that the army is capable of liberating the city in five hours if the order was given.

"The army has managed to reach a district, which is 10 kilometers [6.2 miles] from the Euphrates river and 30 kilometers [18.6 miles] from Raqqa. The army is capable to return the city in five hours. The issue of Raqqa liberation depends on the start of the offensive," he said.

According to the military official, Raqqa's liberation was divided into three stages.

"The first stage started with liberation of the Kweiris air base, and the Deir Hafer and Meskane settlements on border with Jordan, which were important Daesh sites. Then the army managed to reach the southeastern outskirts of Raqqa," the military official said.

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The second stage involved the liberation of the city of Resafa, and "hundreds of local oil and gas fields."

The army brigadier general stressed that the third stage was currently underway, adding that the military operation was conducted in parallel with humanitarian efforts.

Raqqa has remained under the control of Daesh since 2013, and is considered the de facto capital of the terrorist group. The operation to liberate the city was launched by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by the US-led international coalition, in early June.

In late June, a spokesman for Syria’s Tomorrow Movement, a national opposition party, told Sputnik that the city would hopefully be completely liberated within three months.

On July 4, the SDF forces breached the Old City wall in Raqqa, advancing into its most heavily fortified enclave and overcoming the defenses of the terrorists.

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