As the SDF pushes its offensive further towards Raqqa, ISIS continues to harass and punish civilians indiscriminately as the terrorist groups gradually loses ground around its stronghold in Syria.
Civilians who have escaped ISIS-controlled areas in Raqqa recount the suffering that they have experienced under the terrorist group’s rule. Civilians are being killed indiscriminately and according to the whims of ISIS militants. There have been murders committed against people being deemed to be “apostates” and “traitors”. Any form of disobedience is being met with severe punishments, including decapitations. There have been subsequent calls to provide aid to IDPs who have succeeded in fleeing from ISIS-held areas as civilians lack proper accommodation and suffer from a shortage of food and drink, as well as the spread of diseases.
The SDF has recently succeeded in making significant gains against ISIS in Raqqa province. They were able to expel ISIS from Tabqa. This victory provided a major boost to the confidence and morale of the SDF. They have since moved forward in their primary aim of liberating the city as part of the operation “Wrath of the Euphrates”. Several villages north of Raqqa city have been captured: Jubb al-Alii, Tall Hassan, Umm Nusora, al-Drubeih al-Kabera, Jarrah Kabir. More recently, on Monday and Tuesday, SDF fighters managed to capture Bir Hammad, Al-Khatuniyah, Ker Hamo, Jia and Hwaijat Faraj from ISIS. They report that they are now able to see the city of Raqqa with the naked eye.
The SDF is now besieging the city of Raqqa from three fronts and they believe that the final attack to capture Raqqa in its entirety is expected to be conducted next month. In anticipation of the upcoming final battle against ISIS forces, large groups of citizens have already fled their homes in order to avoid the imminent clashes between the terrorist and SDF combatants.