Air strikes by the US – led coalition continued on Monday against Islamic State-held areas in Raqqa and will increase as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advance into the jihadists’ remaining areas of the city, the coalition spokesman said. “We have conducted some strikes in the last 24 hours, but I suspect that that will pick up here very soon with the SDF advancing into the final remaining areas of the city,” said the spokesman, Colonel Ryan Dillon.
The SDF’s assault, launched on Sunday, is targeting the “no more than 200-300” foreign militants remaining in the city, SDF spokesman Talal Selo said on Sunday.
Raqqa was the first big Syrian city that IS seized when it rampaged through Syria and Iraq and declared a “caliphate” in 2014. Raqqa became an operations centre for attacks abroad and the stage for some of its darkest atrocities.
The SDF, backed by US – led airstrikes, has been trying to take the city from Islamic State since June.
Dillon said about 3,500 civilians had departed the Islamic State-held parts of the city in the past week.
A convoy of Islamic State militants and their families left the city on Sunday in an evacuation deal brokered with tribal elders. IS militants in return allowed safe passage out of the city for civilians trapped in Raqqa.
Asked if the US – led coalition will target the convoy of IS-fighters and families, Dillon said: “We’re not going to strike a convoy that has a multitude of family members or civilians on it.”