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US-backed forces declare victory over IS in Raqqa

Syrian Democratic Forces say city is free of extremists for the first time in four years.

Raqqa has suffered huge destruction under IS rule.
Raqqa has suffered huge destruction under IS rule. AP

A US-backed Syrian force has declared victory in Raqqa days after it said it had cleared the northern city of members of so-called Islamic State.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Friday that the city is free of extremists for the first time in four years.

The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for IS, which has seen its territories steadily shrink since last year.

IS took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicentre of its brutal regime.

An IS flag a symbol of the brutal regime suffered by a battered city.
An IS flag a symbol of the brutal regime suffered by a battered city.

SDF announced on Tuesday that they had driven IS militants out of the city after weeks of fighting.

The group is expected to hand over authority in the city to a local council and a 3,000-member police force made up mostly of residents of Raqqa province.

The announcement was made inside a stadium in the city of Raqqa on Friday.
The announcement was made inside a stadium in the city of Raqqa on Friday. APTN

An SDF commander, Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo, said residents will be allowed to start returning to the city once the mines and explosives are removed.

The United Nations and aid organisations estimate about 80 per cent of the city is destroyed or uninhabitable.

Drone footage showed the extent of the destruction in Raqqa.
Drone footage showed the extent of the destruction in Raqqa. AP
Destroyed buildings and vehicles in the deserted streets of Raqqa.
Destroyed buildings and vehicles in the deserted streets of Raqqa. APTN
The UN says 80% of the city is destroyed or uninhabitable.
The UN says 80% of the city is destroyed or uninhabitable. APTN

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