US-Backed SDF Forces Announce 'Final Phase' Of Raqqa Battle

US-Backed SDF Forces Announce 'Final Phase' Of Raqqa Battle

 US-backed forces announced the "final phase" of the battle to retake Syria's Raqa on Sunday (October 15), after a group of foreign Islamic State group fighters left their one-time stronghold under an evacuation deal.

Raqqa was once the de facto Syrian capital of the jihadists' self-styled "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, but ISIS now holds just 10 percent of the city.

On Sunday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia that has been battling to oust ISIS from the city since entering it in June said the fight was now entering its endgame.

"We are now in the final phase of the battle for Raqqa," said Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, spokeswoman for the SDF's Raqqa campaign.

The militia said in a statement that the last phase of the fighting would "end the presence of the terrorist mercenaries inside the city".

"The battle... will continue until the entire city is cleared of terrorists who refuse to surrender, including foreign terrorists."

The announcement comes after a deal brokered by local officials to evacuate ISIS fighters from the city.

The deal was announced Saturday, with one senior local official telling AFP that both foreign and ISIS fighters would be leaving the city, possibly to remaining jihadist-held territory in neighboring Deir Ezzor province.

The US-led coalition said on Saturday that dozens of Islamic State (ISIS) militants have surrendered in their former Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.