U.S.-Backed Forces Slow Advance To Protect Civilians In Raqqa

U.S.-Backed Forces Slow Advance To Protect Civilians In Raqqa

 The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are making slow progress in their campaign to retake Raqqa as Islamic State (ISIS) militants use civilians as human shields, a commander of Assyrian Military Council, part of the SDF, said.

Commander Matay Hanna told Reuters on Tuesday (August 8) that the ISIS militants use civilians against the SDF fighters as the operation to liberate the ISIS Syrian de facto capital of Raqqa continue.

“We have many problems. We have like mines, tunnels, you know, snipers and the main thing they are using the civilians against us so we are moving slowly and very carefully,” the commander added.

The SDF launched its U.S.-backed campaign to seize Raqqa in early June. The assault on ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria overlapped with the campaign to drive ISIS from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the group was defeated last month.

Islamic State is also fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias.

About 2,000 ISIS fighters are estimated to remain in the Syrian city of Raqqa, fighting for their survival in the face of an offensive launched by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in June, a senior U.S. official said on Friday (August 4).