US-backed Syrian forces claim capture of Old City in IS stronghold

BEIRUT, Weedah Hamzah (dpa) - US-backed Syrian forces said Friday they had captured the Old City of al-Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group in the war-torn country.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurd-led alliance supported by the United States, have "liberated" the Old City and the neighbourhood of al-Dir'iya in al-Raqqa, the bloc's spokesman Mustapha Bali told dpa by phone.

He added that the breakthrough came after fierce battles against Islamic State militants that lasted a month.
"This victory is a present to our people. The greatest present will be the complete liberation of al-Raqqa city," he said in a subsequent statement.
SDF forces said that 65 per cent of al-Raqqa city is now under their control. Only six neighbourhoods remain in Islamic State's hands.
The claims could not be independently verified by dpa.
The SDF launched the operation to retake al-Raqqa in November. Islamic State had seized the city in 2014.

Saturday, September 2nd 2017
Weedah Hamzah

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