SDF secures 350 square km in past week, Coalition spokesman says

SDF secures 350 square km in past week, Coalition spokesman says
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand on their military vehicle in northern Deir al-Zor province ahead of an offensive against Islamic State militants, Syria February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said
4 years ago

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SULAIMANI – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by U.S.-led Coalition forces, have regained control of 350 square kilometers (135 square miles) in the last week, a Coalition spokesman said.

Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday (May 17), Colonel Ryan Dillon said the SDF fighters have tightened “their noose” around ISIS militants in ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa.

"In the last week, the SDF have tightened their noose around ISIS in the northern and eastern and western part of Raqqa," Dillon said.

"They have taken almost 350 sq kilometers of ground from ISIS, so they continue to just encroach and ... tighten, and tighten and tighten that isolation ring, quite frankly largely uncontested," he added.

According to the Coalition’s spokesman, there are some 3,000 to 4,000 ISIS militants in the city of Raqqa, where they continue to erect defenses against the anticipated offensive.

With airstrikes and special ground forces from the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF has been advancing on Raqqa city from the north, east and west for several months.

The SDF say they are now just four kilometers north of Raqqa city, the de facto capital of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate.

Speaking in the town of Tabqa shortly after its liberation from ISIS last week, SDF Commander Abdul Qader Hevdeli said that the operation to liberate Raqqa would begin soon but he declined to announce the exact date of the operation.

The SDF, who have been successfully fighting the militants in northern Syria, have been steadily moving in on the jihadist group in Raqqa since November last year.