Tuesday 22 May 2018

Militias backed by US defeat Isil in last Syria stronghold

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A "No Entry" road sign is pictured amidst the rubble along a road in downtown Raqqa. Photo: Reuters

John Davison

US-backed militias in Syria declared victory over Isil in its capital Raqqa yesterday, raising flags over the last jihadist footholds after a four-month battle.

The fighting was over and the alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias was clearing the city's stadium of mines and any remaining militants, said Rojda Felat, commander of the Raqqa campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

A formal declaration of victory in Raqqa will soon be made, once the city has been cleared of mines and any possible Isil sleeper cells, said the SDF.

In Washington, the US military said that about 90pc of Raqqa had been retaken from Isil but it expected the SDF to face pockets of resistance.

The fall of Raqqa, where Isil staged parades after its string of lightning victories in 2014, is a potent symbol of the jihadist movement's collapsing fortunes. It has lost much of its territory in Syria and Iraq, including its most prized possession, Mosul. In Syria, it has been forced back into a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert.

Irish Independent

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