Syrian Democratic Forces capture university building in Raqqa amidst ongoing clashes with ISIS

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Monday made new gains in Raqqa city, amidst intensifying clashes with Islamic State’s (ISIS) extremists.

The Kurdish-led SDF seized control of the Science College building of Raqqa University.

“The building had been used by ISIS as a security centre. The SDF soldiers were able to expel ISIS militants from the building and seized a large deal of ammunition there,” SDF officer Habun Osman told ARA News on Monday.

“The progress came after heavy clashes with ISIS terrorists,” he said, adding that dozens of ISIS militants were killed in the clashes.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) activist group told ARA News that ISIS has buried many of its militants in the backyard of the Old Mosque in the city, “for being unable to reach the main cemetery due to the SDF bombardment.”

Also on Monday, clashes broke out in the neighbourhoods of Hatin in the west and Sinaa east of the city, amid attempts by the SDF to liberate both areas from ISIS.

The Kurdish-led forces have already captured three neighbourhoods in the city since the launch of a major operation to liberate the city a few days ago.

On Sunday, the SDF liberated the al-Romaniya neighbourhood after clashes with ISIS.

On Friday, the US-backed SDF units took control of the Sabahiya district in the western part of Raqqa city. Also on Friday, the Syrian Democratic Forces imposed a siege on the ISIS-held Raqqa Grain Silos in the northern part of the city, amidst ongoing clashes.

On Wednesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces expelled ISIS from the Mashlab neighbourhood in the eastern part of Raqqa.

This comes after the US-backed SDF troops launched a major operation to liberate the city of Raqqa from ISIS radicals. On Tuesday, the SDF announced the official start of the operation to capture the city.

Raqqa has been known as a de facto capital for the ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate since the summer of 2014.

The Kurdish-Arab-Christian alliance of SDF has been isolating the city since November 2016, when the US-backed alliance launched the so-called Euphrates Wrath Operation.

On 13 April, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the fourth phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation against Islamic State’s extremists to clear out the northern countryside of the province.

During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, which began on November 6, 2016, the SDF liberated roughly 560 km² in Northern Raqqa.

On 10 December, 2016, the SDF launched the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath, during which it captured over 2500 km² in Western Raqqa.

On 4 February, 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation, and liberated dozens of villages in Eastern Raqqa from ISIS jihadists.

The campaign is ultimately aimed at liberating the city from ISIS extremists.