Kurdish-led forces secure hundreds of civilians in Raqqa as anti-ISIS campaign rages

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Syrian civilians displaced from Tabqa city in Raqqa province amidst clashes between SDF and ISIS. File photo

ARA News

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Thursday the liberation of another group of civilians trapped in clashes points in Raqqa city, where the fighting continues against ISIS militants.

“The SDF special teams managed to liberate 125 civilians from the neighborhood of Shehada after the advance of the Syrian Democratic forces south of the city of Raqqa. Among the civilians who were released were two civilians injured by artillery shells fired by mercenaries [ISIS],” the SDF leadership said.

“The group responsible for liberating the trapped civilians continues to work amidst the clashes, amid mortars and artillery that Daesh mercenaries targeting civilians and mines to try to secure safe access to safe points,” the SDF added.

During the operation to liberate the civilians two fighters of the SDF special teams were injured.

“Special teams and other SDF fighters took the injured to hospitals for treatment, while the fighters provided water and food to the civilians who had been freed and transferred them to the safe areas protected by the Syrian Democratic Forces,” the SDF said.

Also on Wednesday, the SDF killed at least 29 ISIS jihadists and freed 264 civilians from the Nazlat Shehadeh neighbourhood, southern Raqqa, the SDF Media Centre reported.

“Among the main tasks of the SDF troops is to maintain the safety of civilians. The SDF factions have therefore opened safe corridors and rescued hundreds of people who had been trapped in Raqqa,” the SDF said.

Fighters of the Syriac Military Council (MFS) on Tuesday also liberated seven Christians from ISIS. “Daesh [ISIS] are using civilians as human shields inside the city,” MFS fighter Alexi Chamoun told ARA News.

“Some civilians are fleeing and surrendering themselves to us, with them children and women. Daesh is known for it’s brutal actions and behavior,” he added.

According to latest assessment of the NGO Reach Raqqa residents have continued to flee Ar-Raqqa city, with the population estimated to be between 10,000 and 25,000, compared to 20,000-50,000 three weeks ago.

“Many of those who have fled the city reportedly hope to return as soon as possible. Returns are not expected within the next month due to ongoing conflict, though key informants reported that shelter rehabilitation and mine clearance operations would likely hasten returns,” Reach said.

According to the NGO assessment published on 28 July it’s estimated that 70% of the remaining population will leave the city over the next two weeks, if possible for them to do so.

“For residents remaining in the city, the top reported barrier to movement was ISIL not permitting them to leave. Others reportedly either cannot afford movement costs or remain in order to protect assets,” the NGO said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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