US-Backed Syrian Democratic Forces Rebels Begin Final Assault on Daesh in Raqqa

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidSyrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters gesture while posing on a damaged airplane inside Tabqa military airport after taking control of it from Islamic State fighters, west of Raqqa city, Syria April 9, 2017
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters gesture while posing on a damaged airplane inside Tabqa military airport after taking control of it from Islamic State fighters, west of Raqqa city, Syria April 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
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The US-backed Syrian rebels have announced the final stage of their operation to free the former so-called Daesh "capital," Raqqa, from terrorists.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that they have started the final assault on Raqqa after the evacuation of civilians and Daesh terrorists, who agreed to leave the city.

"The battle will continue until the whole city is clean of the terrorists who refused to surrender, including the foreign fighters," a statement by the SDF said on Sunday.

Earlier, the US-led coalition announced that an agreement has been reached to evacuate civilians from Raqqa. After a convoy with evacuees left the former "capital" of Daesh terrorist group, the final battle with remaining terrorists began. Reuters reported citing a militia spokesman that 275 Daesh fighters from Syria left Raqqa, according to the agreement, while 200-300 militants mostly of foreign origin remained in the city.

"We still expect there to be difficult fighting," US-led coalition's spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said.

Tanks of the Syrian Army at combat positions in Deir ez-Zor - Sputnik International
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A source in the Syrian Democratic Forces that are conducting the Raqqa operation on the ground with the coalition's support, told Sputnik on Friday that the city is set to be liberated from militants within 2-3 days. The source added that the strength of the terrorists is running out; their defeats in Raqqa have undermined their morale and prevent them from fighting back.

According to SDF representatives, the Syrian rebels currently control about 90 percent of Raqqa. 

Raqqa has been under Daesh control since 2013. On November 6, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, also consisting of Arab, Assyrian and Turkmen fighters, among others, announced the start of the military operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh terrorist group with the assistance of the US-led coalition's airstrikes. Raqqa’s Old City was freed from Daesh last month.

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