Doctor Nasr Haji Mansour, a senior SDF advisor, told ARA News in an exclusive interview that ISIS had been expelled from 25% of Raqqa. His statement corresponds with those recently given by Coalition commanders.
“More than 25% of Raqqa city has been liberated from ISIS,” Dr Mansour confirmed. “It looks like [the Raqqa operation] will go on a little bit longer; maybe another month if surprises don’t happen.”
US Colonel Joe Scrocca, the Coalition’s Director of Public Affairs, also confirmed last week’s rapid advance. “The SDF is making significant progress on several axes against heavy ISIS resistance in Raqqa.”
The colonel refused “to put a timeline on these efforts” but struck a positive note, saying: “The liberation of Raqqa will be a significant achievement in the Coalition’s mission to defeat [ISIS] by, with, and through our partner forces.”
Echoing his colleagues, Canadian Brigadier General Anderson told reporters on Thursday that the SDF had seized the initiative. According to the general, in the past week the SDF took control of “about 45 km2 from ISIS in and around the city of Raqqa.”
Brig Gen Anderson added that “on Monday night, the SDF gained a foothold in the Old City by breaching the ancient Rafiqah Wall.”
“The SDF are exerting pressure on ISIS from four different fronts throughout the city,” the general continued. “With a push to the east along the southern portion of the Euphrates River, ISIS is now completely encircled.”
The Canadian general cautioned that while “the fight in Raqqa is going well,” he knew “there would be tough days ahead.” Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the anti-ISIS Coalition, has also warned that the battle for Raqqa is just getting under way.
“I think we’re in the first 25-30% of the campaign for Raqqa,” he said. “We’re just getting started.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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