SDF entered raqqa a month ago, got thrown out, & are now back there

Pindo-backed force enters Syria’s Raqa from south
Maya Gebeily, AFP, Jul 2 2017

BEIRUT – Pindo-backed fighters pierced Jihadi-held Raqqa from the south for the first time on Sunday, crossing the Euphrates to enter a new part of the city, said SOHR in London. The SDF have spent months closing in on the Daesh bastion of Raqqa and entered the city’s east and west for the first time last month. On Thursday, they sealed off the Jihadis’ last escape route by capturing territory on the southern bank of the Euphrates. The SOHR said on Sunday:

Today, they entered Raqa’s south for the first time and seized the al-Hal market. Some SDF fighters had advanced north across the Euphrates River, while others had attacked al-Hal from the adjacent district of al-Meshleb in Raqa’s east. The market is fully under SDF control, but Daesh is waging a counter-attack.

The SDF announced it had captured the al-Hal market on Sunday. 11 civilians, including four women and five children, were killed in coalition airstrikes on the western Raqqa district of al-Daraiya late Sunday. The new deaths put at more than 200 the civilian toll from coalition raids on Raqqa since the SDF entered the city on Jun 6. Dozens of SDF fighters have been killed in Raqqa in the same period, including 36 in the past week. The SDF have since seized a handful of neighbourhoods in the east and west but are facing fierce resistance by Daesh as they push closer to the city centre. SDF were battling Daesh on Sunday inside the eastern district of al-Senaa, which they retook after an initial advance by the SDF last month. Al-Senaa is key for both the SDF and Daesh because it is adjacent to the city centre, where most Daesh are thought to be. Daesh pushed the SDF out of al-Senaa on Friday, using dozens of Jihadis disguised in SDF uniforms as well as a slew of car bombs. After two days of counter-offensive, the SDF had retaken about 70% of it by Sunday. Syrian Elite Forces (sic! – RB) spox Mohammad Khaled Shaker told AFP:

Our forces are about 100 metres from the Baghdad Gate. We are combing the area and destroying tunnels to prevent any new infiltrations towards our positions.

According to the coalition, an estimated 2,500 Daesh are defending the northern city. They overran it in 2014. Up to 100,000 civilians are still trapped in the city, says the UN.

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