Islamic State Makes Last Stand in Raqqa
SDF Now Fighting in Old City of Raqqa
Syrian Democratic Forces, including Kurdish YPG and YPJ troops, have overcome heavy Islamic State resistance and fought their way into the Old City of Raqqa, according to a statement from CJTF-OIR, July 3.
Rafiqah Wall Breached
Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of Raqq by opening two small breaches in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City.
ISIS fighters were using the historic wall as a fighting position and had planted mines and improvised explosive devices at several of the breaks in the wall. SDF fighters would have been channeled through these locations and were extremely vulnerable as they were targeted with vehicle-borne IEDs and indirect fire as well as direct fire from heavy machine guns, rocket- propelled grenades and snipers as they tried to breach the Old City.
Targeted Coalition Strikes Support SDF
Conducting targeted strikes on two small portions of the wall allowed Coalition and partner forces to breach the Old City at a locations of their choosing, denied ISIS the ability to use pre-positioned mines, IED and VBIEDs, protected SDF and civilian lives, and preserved the integrity of the greatest portion of the wall. The portions targeted were 25-meter sections and will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-meter wall.
Coalition Making Great Effort to Protect Civilians
Coalition Spokesman, Col. Ryan Dillon, said:
Unlike ISIS – who deliberately destroyed the ruins of Palmyra and the Al-Nuri mosque and uses sites such as the Rafiqa Wall, hospitals, schools and mosques as weapons storage facilities and fighting positions – Coalition forces are making a great effort to protect civilians and preserve these sites for future generations. The most humane way to save the people of Raqqa is to swiftly and decisively defeat ISIS, who have terrorized the people of Raqqa for more than three years. Only this way, can the people of Raqqa be saved and city return to peace.
Source: US Central Command.
Image: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in combat in Raqqa, 8 June 2017 (VOA, 2017).