More than 3200 civilians and fighters were killed in 4 months of the grand battle of Al-Raqqah city and declaration of control continue to be delayed due to the undergoing sweep, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented.
Full Report SOHR:
The Syria Democratic Forces supported by the US Special Forces continues to carry out the sweep operations in Al-Raqqa city, which was the former stronghold of the Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL) group, where the intensity of mines planted by the Islamic State hampers the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) from quickly ending the sweep operations, also the widespread destruction of more than 80% of Al-Raqqa city impedes the forces from reaching all the streets and places in the city, which led to the postponement of announcing the full control of the city until completing the sweep operations in the city, and controlling the narrow spot where members of the organization may still hiding in.
The airstrikes of the International Coalition continue to take place every now and then on the neighborhoods that still out of control of the SDF, where –if exist– members of the Islamic State may infiltrate to, and the death toll in Al-Raqqa city has increased as a result of the constant shelling and clashes, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the death of more civilians in Al-Raqqa city, where it rose to 1117 citizens including an activist in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 267 children and 194 citizen women, they were killed in Al-Raqqa city and its countryside since the 5th of June 2017 until the 6th of October 2017, and the casualties are 1101 citizens including 264 children at least under the age of eighteen and 190 citizen women over the age of eighteen, they were killed in Al-Raqqa city, in addition to 16 citizens including 3 children and 4 citizen women were killed by raids on Zor Shammar village and another area on the southern banks of the Euphrates River in the eastern countryside of Al-Raqqa, the air strikes also resulted in the injury of hundreds of citizens with varying degrees of severity, some of them have amputated limbs and permanent disabilities, while some of the injuries are still in serious cases, which may lead to the increase of the number of casualties, while dozens of houses and service facilities were destroyed in the city, as a result of this intensive bombing, which targeted Al-Raqqa city and its vicinity and outskirts.
The SOHR also documented that the international coalition airstrikes and the heavy bombardment on Al-Raqqa city and its outskirts along with the military offensives in the city that included shelling, bombings and clashes with the “Euphrates Wrath” Operations Forces, which is composed of the Syria Democratic Forces, the Syrian Elite Forces, and the US Special Forces backed by the International Coalition’s warplanes caused – since the launching of the battle until today the 6th of September 2017 until today the 6th of October 2017 the death of at least 1331 members of the “Islamic State” organization including two local figures and commanders of groups, amid confirmed information about death of other members, in addition to injuring tens of them with varying degrees of severity.
Also, the SOHR documented in the same period the death of 608 fighters of the “Euphrates Wrath” including 2 fighters from the Syrian Elites Forces, a Syriac Security Force fighter, 5 fighters of American, Georgian, British and Turkish nationalities, while the rest of them are from the Syria Democratic Forces, whose main pillar is the YPG, and fighters of Manbij Military Council, who were killed during clashes against the “Islamic State” organization and due to bombings in al-Raqqa city and the southern banks of Euphrates River.
Also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of at least 155 civilians including 36 child and 10 citizen women in mine explosions while they were trying to get out of areas controlled by the Islamic State in Al-Raqqa city, to areas controlled by the SDF since the 5th of June 2017 until today the 6th of October 2017, in addition to the injury of tens of other civilians, with varying degrees of severity and permanent disability.
The 2017 Battle of Raqqa is the fifth and final phase of the Raqqa campaign (2016–present) launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) de facto capital in the city of Raqqa.
The battle began on 6 June 2017, and is being supported by airstrikes and ground troops from the US-led coalition.
The operation was named the “Great Battle” by the SDF. The battle ran concurrently with the Battle of Mosul, which started six months earlier, as part of an effort by the CJTF–OIR and its allies to strip ISIL of its regional centers of power, and to dismantle it as an organization controlling territory.
- Syrian Democratic Forces control
- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant control
In 2015, ISIL began to fortify the city and its surrounding areas with bunkers and a network of tunnels.
By June 2017, Raqqa remained the only major Syrian city fully under ISIL control and was, therefore, its effective center of operations. With a large number of foreign fighters, Raqqa has been a planning center for terrorist attacks against European cities.
The Raqqa campaign was launched by the SDF on 6 November 2016 in an effort to capture the city, and it has resulted in the SDF capturing a large amount of territory in the Raqqa Governorate from ISIL, including the city of al-Thawrah, and the infrastructure at Tabqa Dam, and Baath Dam.
As many as 500 US special forces are operating on the ground in northern Syria in support of the Raqqa campaign. The US and other coalition members are supplying heavy weapons, intelligence collection, communications support and other assistance to the SDF as part of their intervention in the conflict.
The battle began in the wake of a tumultuous period for the coalition, as internal pressures had been elevated by the Qatar diplomatic crisis, which had seen diplomatic relations between Qatar and other coalition members severed, and was publicly supported by President Donald Trump.
Local residents stated that many ISIL militants had abandoned the city and traveled to Deir ez-Zor, in anticipation of the impending attack on their capital. It is speculated that the group will assault the city, currently held by the Syrian Government forces, in an effort to make a last stand.
It was reported by AFP that in an US-led airstrike, 21 civilians were killed while attempting to flee Raqqa by dinghy on the Euphrates River. The event was also reported by Al Jazeera, but with uncertainty as to who carried out the bombing.