The Washington Post reports: U.S. backed forces in Syria claimed full control of the Islamic State’s onetime capital of Raqqa on Tuesday, heralding an end to the militants’ presence in their most symbolically important stronghold and bringing closer the likelihood of their complete territorial demise.
Talo Silo, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, said that military operations had halted and that members of the joint Kurdish-Arab force were clearing the city of explosive devices and hunting for sleeping cells.
It was still unclear whether some Islamic State pockets remained, but the SDF portrayed the battle for Raqqa as effectively over.
Besieged and severely weakened, dozens of militants had launched a final stand from inside Raqqa’s main hospital and stadium. But hundreds of others surrendered during the final days of the battle after local officials brokered a controversial deal which could see many escape prosecution. [Continue reading…]