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The Caliphate

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Raqqa Liberated From ISIS, Commander With US-Backed Syrian Forces Says

October 17th 2017


The Syrian city of Raqqa was liberated from ISIS fighters Tuesday, a commander with U.S.-backed Syrian forces said, announcing the "fall of the capital of terrorism."

The loss deprived the terror group of the capital of its so-called caliphate, which has dwindled from a land mass spanning two countries to a sliver of space in Syria.

The last group of Islamic State militants had been holed up Tuesday in a stadium in the Syrian city of Raqqa, their last stand as U.S. backed, Kurdish-led forces closed in around them.

Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo told The Associated Press on Tuesday there were no longer clashes going on in the city, and that a formal declaration would follow befitting "the fall of the capital of terrorism."

This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. (Furat FM, via AP)

Coalition forces captured the city hospital earlier in the day, which doubled as an ISIS command center.

Musafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, told the AP around 22 ISIS militants were killed in the advance on the hospital.

The remaining soldiers of terror were cornered in an area around the city's municipal stadium, which they had turned into a huge prison where they incarcerated anyone who opposed their brutal rule.

The Kurdish-run Hawar news agency said with the capture of the hospital, the last black ISIS flag raised in the city had been taken down. A video released by the news agency illustrated the clashes around the hospital building, which appeared riddled with bullets and partly blackened from a fire.

The U.S.-led coalition said it had not carried out any airstrikes in or around Raqqa for 24 hours, starting from noon Sunday.

The battle for Raqqa began in June and has dragged for weeks as the SDF fighters faced stiff resistance from the militants.

Losing Raqqa has been a huge blow for ISIS, which has steadily lost territory in Iraq and Syria, including Iraq's second largest city of Mosul a few months ago.

The group declared the city on the banks of the Euphrates River, which it seized from other Syrian rebels in early 2014, to be the capital of its self-styled "caliphate," transforming the once vibrant metropolis into the epicenter of its brutal rule where opponents were beheaded and terror plots were hatched

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