IS faces imminent defeat in Raqqa

The Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Raqqa, once its de facto Syrian capital, and the city may finally be cleared of the militants on Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters.

  • Published 15.10.17
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Ain Issa, Oct. 14 (Reuters): The Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Raqqa, once its de facto Syrian capital, and the city may finally be cleared of the militants on Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters.

A local official said tribal elders were seeking to broker a deal where remaining Islamic State fighters, including foreigners, would leave the city, taking civilians with them as human shields.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by air strikes and special forces from a US-led international coalition, have been battling since June to oust the Islamic State from Raqqa, a base that it had used to plan attacks against the West.

The retaking of Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the theocratic "caliphate" that the Islamic State declared in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year it was driven from the city of Mosul.

"The battles are continuing in Raqqa city," YPG spokesperson Nouri Mahmoud, whose group dominates the SDF, told Reuters by telephone. "Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow, the city may be liberated."

The US-led coalition said a convoy was set to depart Raqqa today under an arrangement brokered by local officials.

Its statement said the coalition was not involved in the discussions, and described the arrangement as "a civilian evacuation". Its spokesperson, Col. Ryan Dillon, said the coalition's stance was that Islamic State fighters must surrender unconditionally, but added that he could not comment on who would be in the convoy.

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