The fighters of the Islāmic State group were expelled on 1 September from the old town of Raqqa, which they consider to be their “capital” in Syria. They withdrew under the pressure of the Syrian Democratic Forces (FDS), an Arab-Kurdish alliance supported by the United States. But the jihadists still control a part of the north and the center of the city.
The battle of the old town of Raqqa began two months ago. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) now controls more than 60 percent of the city and are at the gates of the Islāmic State Organization’s security perimeter, where the main command posts of the jihadist organization are located.
According to the UN, some 25,000 civilians will still be trapped in the area. The violence of the fighting has given rise to fears about their fate. Human rights NGO Amnesty International believes they are trapped in a ” deadly labyrinth “.
New lap for Daech
The number of jihadists present in Raqqa is estimated at one thousand. As it progressed towards the center of the city, the Arab-Kurdish coalition supported by Washington met with an increasingly fierce resistance from the fighters of the Islāmic State group.
The latter were barricaded in the administrative district adjacent to the old town, which houses the former governor’s seat and the buildings that belonged to the intelligence services.
The EI had seized in 2014 of this city located on the banks of the Euphrates of which it made its Syrian capital. Raqqa became infamous by becoming the theater of some of the worst atrocities committed by this extremist group.
The fall of the old city of Raqa constitutes a new setback for Daech, confronted in eastern Syria with the advance of government forces. In neighboring Iraq, on 31 August, the EI lost one of its last strongholds, Tal Afar, only a few months after the Mosul metropolis reconquered by the security forces in Baghdad.