Assault on ISIS-Held Raqqa in Its ‘Final Stages’

A US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters says it has driven Islamic State (IS) militants out of 80% of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that its three-month-old assault was now in its “final stages”.

A monitoring group said heavy air strikes had forced militants to pull out of five areas in the past 48 hours.

Raqqa became the de facto capital of the “caliphate” whose creation was proclaimed by IS three years ago.

The provincial city was transformed by the group, which implemented an extreme interpretation of Islamic law there and used beheadings, crucifixions and torture to terrorise residents who opposed its rule.

At the same time, Raqqa became home to thousands of jihadists from around the world who heeded a call to migrate there by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

About 15,000 SDF fighters, supported by US-led coalition air strikes and special forces, encircled Raqqa before launching an offensive to capture the city in June.

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