‘IS capital Raqqa’ conquered by Syrian fighters

Fighter waves a Syrian Democratic Forces flag in Raqqa on 17 October 2017

A US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters says it has taken full control of Islamic State’s one-time “capital” of Raqqa.They say that the official declaration is expected anytime.Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Sello said the fighting was over after a five-month assault.

Clearing operations were now under way to uncover any jihadist sleeper cells and remove landmines, he added.An official statement declaring victory in the city and the end of three years of IS rule is expected to be made soon.

Earlier on Tuesday, the SDF cleared the last two major IS positions in Raqqa – the municipal stadium and the National Hospital.Reuters news agency reported that fighters raised the flag of Popular Protection Units, a Kurdish militia that dominates the SDF, inside the stadium and celebrated in the streets and chanted slogans from their vehicles.

Dozens of foreign militants were believed to have made their last stand in the stadium, while 22 were reportedly killed in the final attack on the hospital.

Up to 300 militants were thought to be holding out on Sunday, after Syrian jihadists and their families were evacuated under a deal negotiated by tribal elders.”Everything is finished in Raqqa, our forces have taken full control of Raqqa,” Mr Sello told AFP news agency on Tuesday afternoon.


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