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AFP: US-backed force says has fully captured Raqa from IS

AFP: US-backed force says has fully captured Raqa from IS

17 October 2017 | 14:28 | FOCUS News Agency
Raqa. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Tuesday they had fully captured the Islamic State group's former Syrian stronghold Raqa, after more than four months of fighting, AFP reported.
"Everything is finished in Raqa, our forces have taken full control of Raqa," SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP.
"The military operations in Raqa have finished, but there are clearing operations now under way to uncover any sleeper cells there might be and remove mines," he added.
"Soon there will be an official statement announcing the liberation of the city."
The city's capture comes after the SDF on Tuesday seized the last two remaining IS positions in Raqa, the national hospital and the municipal stadium.
On Monday, the SDF had taken the infamous Al-Naim traffic circle, dubbed the "Roundabout of Hell" by residents under IS rule because the jihadists used it for public beheadings and crucifixions.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, began their operation to drive IS from Raqa last November, spending months encircling the city before breaking into it in June.
Over the course of four months, they captured some 90 percent of the city, but operations were paused last week to allow local officials to negotiate the evacuation of thousands of trapped civilians.
Under the agreement, several hundred Syrian IS fighters and family members also left remaining jihadist positions, leaving only an estimated 300 foreign fighters in the city.
IS captured Raqa in 2014 and transformed it into the de facto Syrian capital of its self-styled "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.
The city became synonymous with the worst of the group's abuses, as well as a planning centre for jihadist attacks abroad.
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AFP: Some IS foreign fighters have left Raqa under deal: local official

AFP: Some IS foreign fighters have left Raqa under deal: local official

15 October 2017 | 10:26 | FOCUS News Agency
Raqqa. Some foreign Islamic State group fighters have left the one-time jihadist bastion of Raqa in Syria under a deal as the city's capture nears, a local official said Sunday, AFP reported.

"A portion of the foreigners have left," said Omar Alloush, a senior member of the Raqa Civil Council, when asked about a deal announced Saturday for IS jihadists to evacuate Raqa.
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