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Backed Syrian Rebels Break Through Daesh's Defenses in Raqqa Old City

04 July 2017

The Iraqi army, the Kurdistan Regional government and a US-led coalition are involved in what is known as the "Battle for Mosul", a joint military offensive that began in October 2016.

In the fighting at the wall, US Central Command said the Kurdish-led SDF fighters faced heavy resistance from ISIL fighters, who used the wall as a combat position and planted mines and improvised explosive devices against advancing US-backed soldiers. Coalition forces conducted airstrikes on small portions of the wall to help the Syrian Democratic Forces get through ISIS' prepositioned mines and IEDs, officials said.

The operation was "a key milestone" in the campaign to "liberate the city", Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, said on his official Twitter account.

The city became the scene of some of the group's worst atrocities, including public decapitations.

The United Nations has expressed concern for up to 100,000 civilians it says are still trapped in the city.

IS seized Raqqa in 2014, proclaiming it the capital of a "caliphate".

On Sunday, the US -backed fighters crossed the Euphrates River on the southern edge of the city, completing its encirclement.

Police investigating a shooting at Northwoods Mall
Police later said that it had not been an active shooter situation but rather an isolated incident between two people. One eyewitness told the Post and Courier that she heard a single gunshot from the mall restaurant at which she works.

The breach of the jihadi's defences comes just days after US-backed fighters seized control over the last road leading into Raqqa before heading to the centre to seal the destruction of the terror network's Syrian stronghold.

That is far more than the 200 or so diehard IS fighters, majority foreign, that Iraqi commanders believe are holed up in the Old City of Mosul.

"From the early morning, we were able to gain an important foothold in these neighbourhoods", Staff Brigadier General Haidar al-Obeidi, a commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP.

The UN have confirmed at least 173 civilians were killed in the city last month, with the actual figure said to be much harder.

Iraqi forces are facing a rising number of suicide attacks, including some by female bombers, in the final stages of the more than eight-month-long campaign, commanders said.

The coalition has said the capture of Raqqa will deliver a "decisive blow" to the jihadist group.

Backed Syrian Rebels Break Through Daesh's Defenses in Raqqa Old City