ISIS jihadists showing stiffer resistance amidst SDF progress in Syria’s Raqqa: official

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A fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) preparing his machine gun during clashes with ISIS in northern Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Determined fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to make progress against ISIS as they fight block by block in Raqqa. The SDF has now cleared more than 50 percent of the city from ISIS militants, the US-led coalition’s spokesperson said on Friday.

“The SDF are in a fierce urban fight and have almost managed to link up their forces along eastern and western axes as they conduct deliberate clearance operations of areas under their control,” Colonel Ryan Dillon said.

“Fighting in the tightly packed old city is particularly difficult, with ISIS rigging buildings and even corpses with improvised explosives to try to stall the SDF advance.  In the past week, ISIS has also used car bombs to attack evacuating civilians, as well as journalists.  In attacks two days in a row, ISIS used armored vehicles packed with explosives to kill six noncombatants and wound five reporters,” he added.

“They have continued to make steady progress along the east and west axes of advance.  And over the course of the last week, in the southern portion just north of the Euphrates River, they have taken some ground from there as well,” he said.

Moreover, the coalition confirmed the SDF linked up the Raqqa frontline.

“SDF forces linked-up East-West axes in Raqqa, continue to pressure ISIS; more than 50% of the city is now under SDF control,”  Colonel Ryan Dillon said on Friday.

Nevertheless, there is stiff resistance by ISIS extremists. “There’s no question that they have hit stiffer resistance, definitely compared to the beginning of offensive operations. We’ve talked about the IEDs, car bombs, and the static vehicle-borne IED placements that they have used throughout Raqqa,” he said.

“I mentioned last week that 80 percent of the engagements that the SDF have faced have been from some sort of improvised explosive device. So, that also with the back-clearance that I mentioned in my opening statement, to make sure they hold the gains that they have had, all contribute to the level of progress that has happened,” he added.

“But I’ll be certain that there has been progress and none of the territory that they have gained has been ceded to ISIS at all,” Colonel Dillon concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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