18:53 GMT18 April 2021
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    Operation to Liberate Raqqa From Daesh (61)

    The Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces backed by a United States-led international coalition continue their operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa.

    According to an SDF source, fighting has intensified in Raqqa, especially in the area of the old city. Half of the city has already been cleared of Daesh terrorists.

    "There have been some major advances in the course of the operation. SDF forces took control over several districts. Daesh’s resistance in Raqqa was broken," Nuri Mehmud, a representative of Kurdish self-defense forces, told Sputnik Turkey.

    According to Mehmud, Daesh is sustaining serious losses, and its fighting capabilities have been significantly weakened. 

    As a result, he added, Daesh is losing ground and cannot intimidate local residents as it happened before.

    "Raqqa will be liberated in the near future and this will be a milestone event in the fight against terrorism. It will have a positive effect on the situation in the Middle East. A liberated Raqqa will be a symbol of Daesh’s defeat and a triumph of those fighting terrorism," Mehmud said.

    Meanwhile, US Central Command (CENTCOM) head Gen. Joseph Votel recently said that the Raqqa operation could still take several months to complete.

    "We would expect they are going to fight harder and more aggressively than they are, and a large part of that is going to be exploited again. So, I think it is going to be a challenging fight and it will take months," Votel said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

    He noted that the operation to retake the city of Mosul in Iraq from Islamic State took nine months.

    Earlier, the Iraqi armed forces retook another terrorist-captured city, Mosul in northern Iraq, where the creation of Daesh was first declared in 2014.
    The SDF launched the operation to reclaim Raqqa on June 6, more than three years after Daesh declared the city the capital of its "caliphate."

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

    Last week, the Pentagon reported that US troops entered Raqqa. They are not engaged in direct combat and acting in an "advise and assist role" for the SDF.

    Raqqa has been under Daesh control since 2013. The Syrian Armed Forces have been fighting on Raqqa's outskirts for several months.

    The SDF was formed in 2015 as the defense force of de facto autonomous Rojava federation in northern Syria and is supported by the US-led coalition. The group is among the forces fighting Daesh and brings together Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian and Turkmen fighters, among others.

    Operation to Liberate Raqqa From Daesh (61)


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    Raqqa Fight Still to Take Months to Complete - US CENTCOM Commander
    US-Equipped Forces Penetrate Daesh Defenses in Raqqa - Special Envoy
    Pentagon Confirms US Troops Enter Raqqa to ‘Advise, Assist’ in Battle With Daesh
    US-led coalition, terrorism, military conflict, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Daesh, Syria, US, Raqqa
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