SDF declare Raqqa ‘fully liberated’ from ISIS

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Oct. 17 announced that they have “fully cleared” Raqqa of jihadist fighters and “liberated” the city from ISIS. The last group of hold-outs reportedly surrendered. The operation, launched in June, was named for Adnan Abu Amjad, an Arab commander with the SDF who was killed in August in the battle for Raqqa. The SDF coordinated their offensive closely with the US-backed coalition. More than 3,000 bombs have landed on Raqqa since January, devastating schools, hospitals and residential buildings. Less than one percent of Raqqa’s 300,000 pre-war population is thought to remain in the city. The city has no electricity or water, and its last functioning bakery was destroyed recently. The Syrian Network for Human Rights counts more than 900 civilians killed over the course of the operation, including at least 570 in coalition air-strikes.

The SDF pledge to hand the city over to civilian authorities. But two councils are both asserting the right to take power: the Raqqa Civilian Council (RCC), founded in April and backed by the SDF; and the Raqqa Provincial Council (RPC), backed by the main Syrian opposition body, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). The RPC claims to be a successor to the civilian council that began administering Raqqa in 2013 after the Free Syrian Army and allied rebels took the city from the Assad regime.  (ANF, LAT, Al Jazeera)