This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 June, 2018
Advertisement

US-backed forces declare victory over the Islamic State's former 'capital'

Raqqa was the Islamic State’s main centre.

A soldier of the SDF searching through the debris of a destroyed building in Raqqa
A soldier of the SDF searching through the debris of a destroyed building in Raqqa
Image: Morukc Umnaber

A US-BACKED Syrian force has declared victory over the Islamic State (IS) group in its former ‘capital’ of Raqqa today, declaring the northern Syrian city free of any extremist presence.

At a press conference held inside the city today, the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) formally handed over administration of the devastated northern city to a council made up of local officials and tribal leaders.

In a highly symbolic move, the press conference was held inside the city’s sports stadium which Islamic State militants had turned into an arms depot and a huge prison where they incarcerated and tortured their opponents.

“Our victory is one against terrorism, and the liberation of Raqqa marks the latest chapter in the fight against terrorists in Syria,” said Talal Sillo, a spokesman and senior SDF commander.

Standing before a backdrop of shattered buildings, Sillo urged the international community and aid organisations to assist with the city’s reconstruction.

Associated Press drone footage from Raqqa showed the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and the Islamic State group and thousands of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition.

Source: Associated Press/YouTube

The footage from yesterday shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighbourhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.

Uninhabitable city

The video showed entire blocks in the city as uninhabitable with knocked-out walls and blown-out windows and doors, while some buildings had several stories turned to piles of debris. The stadium that was used as an arms depot and prison by the extremists appears to have suffered less damage compared with surrounding buildings.

Sillo said 655 local and international fighters lost their lives during the four-month battle for Raqqa.

We call upon all countries and peace-loving forces and all humanitarian organisations to participate in rebuilding the city and villages around it and help in removing the scars of war that were inflicted by the IS group.

Long before the ground offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces began in Raqqa in early June, warplanes pounded the city for months.

The US-backed Kurdish-led SDF announced on Tuesday they have driven IS militants out of the city after weeks of fighting.

The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for IS, which has seen its territories steadily shrink since last year. IS took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicentre of its brutal rule.

Read: US-backed forces have driven the Islamic State out of its former ‘capital’

More: Iraqi forces seize ground from Kurds amid soaring tensions between two US allies

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (17)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

Leave a commentcancel

 

Trending Tags