SDF Liberates 98 Villages And Hamlets, 700 Square Kilometers In Nine Days

SDF Liberates 98 Villages And Hamlets, 700 Square Kilometers In Nine Days

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have liberated 98 villages and hamlets during the third phase of their military offensive to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

A statement from the SDF on Sunday (February 12) declared 98 villages and hamlets liberated from ISIS, as well as 700 square kilometers retaken from the jihadist group in the northern countryside of Raqqa.

“Our forces have forced ISIS mercenaries to retreat 40 km in nine days from the beginning of the battle [Third phase of Operation Wrath of Euphrates], almost reaching the outskirts of Raqqa city,” the statement read.

The SDF launched the third phase of the Operation Wrath of Euphrates on February 4, to liberate Raqqa from ISIS occupation with the aim of encircling the entire city. Within days the forces have managed to get to within a few kilometers of Raqqa city outskirts.

While progress during the third phase has been rapid, some fierce clashes have broken out north of Raqqa as ISIS militants looked to stem the SDF’s advance.

124 ISIS militants have been killed, and 9 captured, the statement added.  13 SDF fighters were also killed.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on Sunday (February 12) in Erbil, that the SDF was making good progress in their operation to liberate Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital, and that the isolation of the city should be finished “by the spring," then after, the offensive to capture the entire city itself will start.

The SDF statement ended by calling on Raqqa’s youth to join the SDF and help in the liberation of their city.

The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters who have been successfully fighting ISIS in northern Syria, has been steadily moving in on the jihadists group’s de-facto Syrian capital of Raqqa for the past three months.

The SDF, backed by coalition forces, have liberated more than 3,500 square kilometers from ISIS since the operation began to isolate the ISIS-stronghold on November 5, 2016.