US-backed forces advances in Raqqa
BEIRUT – Agence France-PresseU.S.-backed forces battling to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from its Syrian bastion Raqqa have advanced in the city’s south, seizing a new neighborhood, a spokesman and monitor said on Aug. 1.
The Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began a campaign to capture Raqqa from ISIL last year, slowly encircling the city before breaking into it for the first time in June.
Backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, the alliance now controls more than 50 percent of the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.
“Overnight, the SDF advanced in the south of the city, after taking control of the Nazlet Shahada neighborhood,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
He said SDF memebrs also controlled large parts of the adjacent neighborhood of Hisham Bin Abdel Malik, after advancing in the south from both the eastern and western fronts.
“Daesh [ISIL] effectively no longer has a presence in the southern neighborhoods of Raqa, after SDF forces coming from the eastern front met with those advancing from the western front,” he added.
Writing on Twitter, the U.S. envoy to the international coalition against ISIL praised the SDF’s advances.
“Significant progress in Raqqa last 24 hours, with key territory seized by SDF forces & 100s of civilians freed,” Brett McGurk wrote.