Fewer than 2,000 Islamic State fighters remain in their self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, as U.S.-backed fighters come close to controlling approximately half of the city, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. John Dillon told Pentagon reporters Thursday.
Dillon characterized the fight Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are facing in Raqqa as similar to the resistance seen by the Iraqi Security Forces in eastern Mosul, and explained that they now control approximately 45 percent of the city. The Iraqi Security Forces push on eastern Mosul was generally seen as easier than the bloody battle for the western half of the city.
Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday that SDF fighters had control of 40 percent of the city, indicating a 5 percent gain in the interim three days of battle. Dillon cast the gains as “incremental” and said “less than 2,000” ISIS fighters remain in the city.
Dillon cautioned that while the fight is not as grueling, ISIS continues to use suicide borne car bombs and human shields. He previously told The Associated Press that ISIS has taken to posting children outside their car bomb factories in Raqqa to deter U.S. airstrikes. “They are like rats. They pop up from underground and then disappear again,” an SDF fighter said of ISIS fighters in recent comments to The Associated Press.
ISIS fighters remaining in Raqqa appear to compromise only a small percentage of the remaining terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Dillon estimated the total number of fighters remaining on the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields at a maximum of 15,000. U.S. military commanders refuse to a put a timeline on operations to retake Raqqa, noting that operations to retake Mosul took far longer than originally expected.
Source: Daily Caller