US forces have driven out ISIS from its last Syrian stronghold

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander walks through a square in Raqqa after taking control from ISIS. (Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have recaptured the city of Raqqa from ISIS.

A four-month offensive in the city ended early Tuesday morning when SDF entered the national hospital and Raqqa stadium, the last two positions held by Islamic State.

A number of ISIS fighters and 3,500 civilians were evacuated on the weekend via a deal with tribal elders, but it’s thought that 300 fighters had remained.

This is considered a crucial defeat for ISIS, which also lost its stronghold in Mosul, Iraq, earlier this year. Raqqa had been the Syrian capital of ISIS’ caliphate since it was captured in 2014 and was the site of international attack planning and, for a time, held Western hostages.

This defeat marks just the first steps in stabilising the city after 1,130 civilians were killed in the last five months and 270,000 displaced. Forces will need to clear IEDs and check for sleeper cells before any rebuilding work can begin.

SDF fighters have now driven out ISIS from more than 8000 square kilometres.

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