US backed Syrian Democratic forces are engaged in fierce fighting with ISIL in the centre of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the jihadist group in Syria.
Kurdish fighters have taken up positions close to the Old Mosque.
An SDF commander says the Jihadists are deliberately placing civilians in danger:
“At the moment the challenges we face are civilians being used as human shields and heavily mined civilian areas. Because of this our other forces are moving slowly, for the civilians’ safety. In fact, we always appeal to the civilians to find a secure place for their safety.”
Some 30 kilometres from Raqqa SDF fighters are assessing the damage carried out by ISIL on al-Rasafa’s cultural sites and oil fields.
Anti-Assad forces adopted a precise plan to ensure the oil infrastructure remained intact to allow for prompt production to help boost a shattered economy.
The damage done to al-Rasafa ‘s heritage sites and castles is another matter,
Islamic States’ wanton vandalism and the brutal battle to retake the city has resulted in the destruction of yet more of Syria’s once rich architectural tradition.