12:06 GMT16 January 2021
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    Senior leaders of Daesh terror group are leaving the Syrian city of Raqqa and moving operations to Deir ez-Zor, US Department of Defense spokesperson Jeff Davis said in a briefing on Friday

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The spokesperson noted that Daesh leaders are moving to Deir Ez-Zor and Madan.

    "A lot of senior ISIS [Daesh] leaders, a lot of their bureaucrats…[are] leaving Raqqa and moving their operations further down river," Davis told reporters.

    In this undated file image posted on Monday, June 30, 2014, by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, fighters from the Islamic State group parade in Raqqa, north Syria
    © AP Photo / Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, File
    "They [Daesh] are very close to being fully isolated," Davis said when asked to comment on the situation in Raqqa. "Once isolation is complete, it is very difficult for them [terrorists] to be able to retain their capabilities to put up a solid defense."

    Davis noted that currently there is only one way leading out of Raqqa, which makes it impossible for the terrorists to bring in large reinforcement.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are leading the offensive on the city, have not seen a lot of resistance from Daesh, Davis appointed out.

    "It's been fairly easy going through," he added.

    At the same time, Davis underscored that the fight to retake Raqqa will be a very difficult one, although not on the scale of Mosul. "It is a smaller city," Davis said.

    Raqqa, northern Syria.
    © AP Photo / Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, File
    Earlier, US Department of Defense spokesperson Jeff Davis said that the US-led coalition started disabling bridges south of the Syrian city of Raqqa to enhance constriction on the city.

    The phase to encircle and isolate Daesh's stronghold of Raqqa in Syria continues and will be completed within several weeks, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. John Dorian said last week.

    Daesh captured Raqqa in January 2014 and the city has served as its center of operations since.

    The Syrian government-held city of Deir Ez-Zor has been under siege from Daesh since July 2014.


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