Reports: US-backed forces recapture ISIS' de-facto capital of Raqqa
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) claim they now control Raqqa, the one-time capital of ISIS. The SDF claims only a few ISIS militants remain in Raqqa. The al-Naim square, where ISIS once conducted public executions, has been recaptured. The official declaration on the city's recapture is expected soon, the BBC has reported. A convoy of ISIS fighters and their families left Raqqa earlier.
ISIS took over Raqqa in 2014, making it among the first large cities it gained control of during its rapid expansion. For the past four months, the SDF, which comprises of Kurdish and Arab militias, has laid siege to the city. The fighting has left large parts of Raqqa destroyed and caused heavy casualties among the city's civilians.
Over 3,000 civilians have fled Raqqa in recent days. The SDF earlier allowed some ISIS militants to leave in a pre-planned departure to shorten the battle for Raqqa. However, around 50 hardline ISIS militants remain in areas surrounding the city's hospital and stadium. The loss of Raqqa represents another blow to ISIS, whose power has waned thanks to global anti-ISIS efforts.