The ruins of Raqqa: Shocking images show the total devastation after ISIS’s ‘caliphate capital’ in Syria is finally retaken
Published: 09:50 EDT, 19 October 2017 | Updated: 09:54 EDT, 19 October 2017
Victory: A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter walks alone through the ruins of the city of Raqqa – formerly the capital of Islamic State’s self-declared ‘caliphate’ in Syria
Heartbreaking: A child’s stroller is abandoned on the street next to a burnt-out vehicle in Raqqa, Syria O
New dawn: A small Syrian Democratic Forces flag has been attached to the centrepiece of the Al-Na’im roundabout in Raqqa
These images show the ruins that are left after the four-month battle to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the terrorist Islamic State and free its citizens.
Raqqa had served as the capital of its so-called ‘caliphate’ since 2014, and was ruled with an iron fist by ISIS for more than three-and-a-half years.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed coalition of several militia factions, announced on Tuesday that military operations in Raqqa have ended and that their fighters have taken full control of the city.
Free: The city was taken over by ISIS in January 2014, and the Islamist terrorists declared it the capital of their ‘caliphate’
Murderers: The Al-Na’im roundabout was also known as the ‘Roundabout of Hell’, as ISIS often used it as the stage for their many public executions during their reign of terror
Obliterated: The long battle for Raqqa has left its mark on the city, with most buildings complitely or partically destroyed
The SDF is expected to hold a news conference in central Raqqa on Friday during which the city will be declared free of extremists for the first time in nearly four years.
The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Col. Ryan Dillon, tweeted Thursday that 98 percent of the city has been cleared of ISIS fighters,.
He added that some militants remain holed up in a small pocket east of the stadium and that buildings and tunnels are being checked for holdouts.
Searching: A de-mining team of Syrian Democratic Forces inspects a vehicle of the Islamic State militants used for suicide car bombing in Raqqa, as efforts to clear the city of fighters and landmines continue
Losing Raqqa represents a major defeat for the collapsing extremist group, which has now been forced back into a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert.
ISIS took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicenter of its brutal rule.
It’s all over: The battle for Raqqa has been ongoing for four months, but on Tuesday, the US-backed militias finally declared that the city had been won and ISIS capital was no more
Security: A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) checks a would-be car bomb at the stadium that was the site of Islamic State fighters’ last stand in the city
The battle for Raqqa has taken a severe toll on civilians.
The United Nations said in March the city contained around 200,000 people, just under its pre-war population.
Since late last year, fighting around and in Raqqa has displaced tens of thousands of people.
Many have fled the city to camps in surrounding territory now under the control of the SDF and its strongest component, the Kurdish YPG militia.
Civilians who were trapped inside the ISIS enclave in the city endured miserable conditions for months, lacking water, power, food and healthcare.
Air strikes, fighting and ISIS snipers and mines have killed many hundreds of people.
The coalition says it is careful to avoid civilian casualties in its bombing runs in Syria and Iraq.
But the U.N. has raised concerns about reports of high civilian deaths.
A building so damaged that it is hard to make out what it may have been before the war stands near Al-Na’im roundabout
Time to celebrate: Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) cheer as they drive through the conquered city
Winners: Female fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand at the Al-Na’im roundabout in central Raqqa
What remains: A lone ISIS flag is pictured above a destroyed building near the city’s central Clock Tower Square
Memories: Damaged buildings line a street near the Al-Na’im roundabout in central Al-Raqqa on Wednesday