Step by step towards the liberation of Raqqa
Raqqa's old neighbourhood, the clock tower, the 23rd street, the wheat silo, the football field and the regime's military areas, that constitute all strategic locations in Raqqa, have been surrounded by the SDF.
The ‘Great Battle’ launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to cleanse Raqqa from the ISIS gangs, is continuing successfully. The fighters of the SDF are putting up an unprecedented struggle against ISIS on the northern, southern, western and eastern fronts.
With the liberation of 15 neighbourhoods of Raqqa, the SDF has taken control around 60 % of the city under their control. Clashes have intensified in the neighbourhoods of al-Berid, Nahda, al-Diriyah and Hattin on the western front as well as in the neighbourhoods of Mansura and Old Raqqa on the eastern front of the city. With the liberation of Mansura and Old Raqqa, the number of the neighbourhoods cleared of ISIS will rise to 17. As the liberation of Raqqa's old city is expected to have a decisive impact on whole of Raqqa, it is stated that ISIS is betting its total defence on this line and its surroundings.
THE CITY CENTRE AND THE CLOCK TOWER
The Rashid neighbourhood on the eastern front has been liberated some days ago. Clashes are ongoing in the Mansura neighbourhood and Raqqa's old city, which are situated on the same front. The neighbourhood of Mansura lies in the city centre. In the middle of this neighbourhood is the clock tower, around which heavy clashes are taking place between the SDF fighters and ISIS gangs in these last few days. The tower, the clock of which came to a standstill dead on 16:00 o'clock, is still standing firmly. The main street leading to the tower is under the control of SDF fighters. The fighters have built a defensive line about 20-25 metres ahead of the tower against the ISIS’ bomb laden vehicles. The ISIS gangs have stationed assassins to break the control of the SDF over the city.
THE 23RD STREET
There are violent clashes on the 23rd street as well, that connects Raqqa's many roads and is situated right in the middle of the city. The SDF fighters have taken a significant part of both the southern and the eastern fronts of the road. The main roads are falling one by one into the hands of the SDF. If this street falls once and for all under the fighter's control, it will break the neck of ISIS.
The old Raqqa quarter, one of the eastern neighbourhoods, is positioned in an important location and is one of the largest neighbours. Its liberation is merely a matter of time. The liberation of the Old Raqqa quarter is expected to carry the battle in the city to a new level. ISIS has made enormous preparations in this neighbourhood which consists of many narrow streets and houses very close to each other, which makes it a place fit for urban warfare. ISIS gangs have dug meters long tunnels beneath the homes and shops and have in that way effectively connected the houses with the countless streets around the entire neighbourhood. They have also covered the roads and all streets with barricades of sand bags. It is evident that the ISIS gangs have set up their whole defence line on this neighbourhood and its surroundings. With the liberation of Old Raqqa, ISIS will suffer a major breakdown on the eastern front.
THE MILITARY ZONE AND THE FOOTBALL FIELD
Operations are still ongoing on the western front in the neighbourhoods of al-Barid, Nahda, al-Diriyah and Hattin. The SDF fighters, who halted their advance for a while due to cleaning operations, went back into action. Around 50 % of the area that was used as a military zone during the regime era, is now under the control of the fighters. The fighters are moving from here straight to the city's biggest football field.
THE WHEAT SILO
SDF fighters, who are preparing operations on the northern front, liberated first the al-Karim neighbourhood on this front. The biggest wheat silo of Raqqa city is located in the north-east and SDF fighters will carry out operations in these areas in the coming days. The fighters who are keeping the wheat silo under their watchful eyes from the high buildings in the vicinity, are sometimes targeting ISIS positions with heavy weapons.