Asharq Al-Awsat in Raqqa… Battles and Smoke Pending Liberation

Beirut – Clouds of smoke covered on Monday the skies of Syria’s Raqqa as the sound of bullets and the roars of bombs filled the air.

The liberation of the city is now pending the last battles waged by ISIS foreign militants, who are fighting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the southern part of the city in eastern Syria.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-dominated SDF told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are between 300 and 400 ISIS militants, the majority of them foreigners, who are still fighting in Raqqa.

On Sunday, the SDF launched their last attack on Raqqa after a convoy of ISIS gunmen left the city following a deal negotiated by local officials and tribesmen.

An SDF spokesperson said that 275 Syrian ISIS fighters left Raqqa, leaving behind only foreign-born terrorists.

According to Bali, the liberation of the city is expected in the upcoming days after the SDF seized control of the neighborhoods of Andalous, Nahda, Bado and Sakhani in central Raqqa on Monday and evacuated around 200 civilians, who escaped from the terrorist organization.

The streets of the city, once the group’s de facto capital, are now covered with debris and piles of rubble. Military bulldozers made their way through narrow alleyways and streets to allow the passage of cars.

When walking in the liberated areas, the appearance of destruction caused by the fierce clashes looks clear. Some buildings turned into rubble, while the rest were left with no windows and doors due to the pressure caused by the bombs dropped in the surrounding areas.

Life stopped in the city. Only the sound of the US-led coalition warplanes and bombs was heard in the city.

A cloud of smoke covered the sky pending the liberation of ISIS’ capital.