clashes intensify us backed sdf troops isis militants seven districts raqqa city


Clashes intensify between US-backed SDF troops and ISIS militants in seven districts in Raqqa


Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) engaged in clashes with ISIS militants in Manbij. File photo: ARA News

ARA News

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are now engaged in clashes with ISIS extremists in seven neighbourhoods in Raqqa, while around 10,000 to 25,000 civilians remain in ISIS-held parts of city.

According to the SDF’s Media Centre, at least four children and two fighters of the SDF were killed when ISIS attacked SDF fighters who were trying to free children.

As the civilians moved to the liberated points, a group of 12 fighters from SDF-Special Forces tried to move civilians from the points of the clashes to a safe location. However, ISIS militants took the opportunity and surprised the group of civilians and fighters with a suicide car.

“Meanwhile, landmines led to the death of four children and two SDF fighters who were carrying children in an effort to save them,” the media centre reported. “Eight other fighters and seven civilians were injured and the health situation of some of them was critical.”

“The clashes are continuing in the neighborhoods as the specialized groups are trying to free civilians to withdraw the wounded and martyrs from the targeting area,” it reported.

The SDF fighters were able to break the lines of ISIS in Nazlah Shehada neighborhood, one of the southern neighborhoods of Raqqa, and liberated several streets and buildings in the neighbourhood.

Clashes are ongoing in seven of Raqqa’s neighbourhoods, including Al-Rawda, old Raqqa, Hisham bin Abdulmalik, Nazlet Al Shihade, Al Derya, Al Nahda, and Al Baryd (post office).

The biggest threat of ISIS is their use of tunnels and snipers.

According to an assessment of the NGO Reach, estimates show that the population of the city is now around 10,000 to 25,000. Most likely within two weeks, 70 per cent of the remaining population will try to leave.

This while fourteen of Raqqa’s 24 neighbourhoods are now abandoned or almost abandoned.

“These neighbourhoods, predominantly on the western and eastern edges of the city, have seen intense fighting, but they are also the areas from which it is the easiest to leave the city,” the NGO said.

Sources of the NGO suggest that the SDF have generally facilitated civilians’ movement from the city, while ISIS has reportedly sought to concentrate the civilians remaining under its control in the centre of the city.

Moreover, civilians in Raqqa face increasing threats to their safety including airstrikes, indirect fire, improvised explosives, mines, and sniper fire.

Cihan Shekh Ahmed, a SDF spokesperson, confirmed earlier that until now 50 per cent of Raqqa is liberated.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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