Backed SDF breaches Raqqa's Old City wall

04 July, 2017, 13:30 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Backed SDF breaches Raqqa's Old City wall

The advance came after the US-led coalition fired on two small sections of the historic Rafiqah Wall, allowing them to overcome Daesh defences, said Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the US-led coalition against Daesh.

United States-backed forces in Syria have entered the most heavily fortified area of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Daesh (ISIS), in what a US official says is a "key milestone" in the war against the extremist group.

The SDF faced heavy resistance, as the IS fighters used the wall as a combat position and planted mines and improvised explosive devices against advancing fighters.

Brett McGurk, the USA special presidential envoy for the coalition to defeat Isis, hailed the breaching of the wall as a "key milestone in campaign to liberate the city". Some SDF fighters had advanced north across the Euphrates River, while others had attacked Al-Hal from the adjacent district of Al-Meshleb in Raqa's east.

"The portions targeted were 25-meter sections and will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-metre wall", it added.

US-backed fighters pierced jihadist-held Raqqa from the south for the first time, crossing the Euphrates River to enter a new part of the Syrian city, a monitor said.

The SDF launched an offensive to seize Raqqa on June 6.

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The battle for Raqqa is not dissimilar to that of Mosul, where US-backed Iraqi forces are fighting to expel the last of ISIS fighters from Iraq's second-largest city.

Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) run across a street in Raqqa, Syria July 3, 2017.

Raqqa is the de facto capital for ISIS militants, and a symbolic stronghold after the loss of their control of Mosul, Iraq, last week.

According to the coalition, around 2,500 Isis fighters are holed up in Raqqa.

Raqa became infamous as the scene of some of the group's worst atrocities, including public beheadings, and is thought to have been a hub for planning attacks overseas.

The United Nations has raised concerns for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in Raqa, where it says the jihadists are using many as human shields.

News agency Deutsche Welle, citing U.S. sources, claims the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces broke through the Isis defenders guarding the wall in the old city.



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