Islamic State Is Fighting to the Death in Raqqa, Syria

(Washington Post) Louisa Loveluck and Thomas Gibbons-Neff - For three years, the Syrian city of Raqqa was the Islamic State's greatest stronghold, providing a launchpad for attacks around the world. But the city is now emptying out as U.S.-backed forces inch their way in, in a grinding battle of attrition. Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, said previous offensives have ended when the militants retreated, but this time there would be no escape. "Raqqa is completely surrounded. They are fighting to the death." U.S. Col. Ryan Dillon said last week that after two months of heavy fighting, the SDF holds 45% of Raqqa. Islamic State is booby-trapping houses and sending waves of suicide bombers to ensure that the SDF pays for each foot of ground. Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy for the coalition, said Sunday that 2,000 Islamic State fighters remain in the city.

2017-08-09 00:00:00

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