Daesh 'Digging Tunnels' in Raqqa as Kurdish-Led SDF Free Half of City

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidSmoke rises from the Raqqa province Syria. (File)
Smoke rises from the Raqqa province Syria. (File) - Sputnik International
According to data obtained by Sputnik Arabic from sources in the Syrian Democratic Forces, the ongoing operation to liberate Raqqa is seeing some fierce and intense fighting.

Deir ez-Zor, Syria. File photo - Sputnik International
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Daesh has carried out attacks using vehicles stuffed with explosives; it has used suicide bombers, placed traps and used other techniques to fight back. All those actions resulted in multiple civilian deaths. 

Since the beginning of the operation for the liberation of Raqqa, nine districts of the city have been released from Daesh and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) now control half of the city.

A SDF communications officer, Mustafa Balli, spoke to Sputnik Arabic in an interview saying that in many districts of Raqqa the fight is ongoing and there are bomb blasts taking place.

“Daesh stuff explosives in vehicles and dig tunnels. During the fights we are bearing losses but many districts have been liberated. To date, 45-50 percent of Raqqa has been liberated from Daesh. It is not exactly half of the city but close to it we have liberated,” Balli said.

In total, there are 27 districts in Raqqa, five of them still under occupation. Battles are also raging in the east of Raqqa in the area of the old city, in the northwest in the Berid district and in the south in the Nezlet Shekhade district.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Col. John Dillon said that about 2,000 Daesh fighters remain in Raqqa.

"About 45 percent of the city is under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces," Dillon told reporters. "We estimate less than 2,000 Daesh fighters still remain in Raqqa."

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters, raises a flag of the SDF near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20 km north of Raqqa, during their offensive towards the Islamic State (IS) group's Syrian stronghold as part of the third phase retake the city and its surroundings, on February 8, 2017 - Sputnik International
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The spokesperson noted that the Syrian Democratic Forces that lead the Raqqa offensive are meeting stiff, sporadic resistance from Daesh fighters entrenched in the city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) managed to repel a massive Daesh attack on the SDF-controlled southern neighborhood of Nazlat Shehade, leaving 41 terrorists dead, local media reported on Friday.

Daesh fighters split in seven groups reinforced with car bombs and attacked the SDF positions near the Mustafa Mosque, ANF news reported.

SDF forces managed to stop the offensive and counterattack, destroying two car bombs and killing 41 terrorists, whose bodies are still at the site of the clashes. In addition, SDF militants captured a number of the enemy's weapons and military equipment pieces.

Raqqa has remained under the control of Daesh since 2013. The operation to liberate the city was launched by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the US-led international coalition, in early June.

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