The fall of Raqqa left 80 per cent of the city destroyed and marks a major defeat for Islamic State.


Drone footage from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa shows the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and the Islamic State (IS) group and thousands of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition.

Footage shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars.

Entire neighbourhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.

The video shows entire blocks in the city as uninhabitable with knocked-out walls and blown-out windows and doors, while some buildings had several stories turned to piles of debris.

The stadium that was used as an arms depot and prison by the extremists appears to have suffered less damage compared with surrounding buildings.

People wearing fatigues loaded into the back of a white truck survey large piles of debris.

PHOTO The SDF declared the “total liberation” of the capital of the Islamic State for more than three years.


Time to return life to normal

Long before the ground offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces began in Raqqa in early June, warplanes pounded the city for months.

The US-backed Kurdish-led SDF announced earlier in the week that it had driven IS militants out of the city after weeks of fighting.

The SDF is scheduled to hold a news conference in Raqqa during which the city will be declared free of extremists for the first time in nearly four years.

The SDF will likely hand over authority in the city to the Raqqa Civil Council, which is made up of local officials and tribal leaders and will be in charge of returning life to normal in the city.

Omar Alloush, a senior member of the Raqqa Civil Council, said the body had a quick-response plan that would begin with removing mines left behind by IS then move to removing debris and opening roads before fixing water and power stations.

Brig Gen Talal Sillo, an SDF commander, said residents would be allowed to start returning to the city once the mines and explosives were removed.

In other cities that the extremists lost earlier, experts worked for weeks to remove booby traps and explosives that kept maiming and killing people long after IS left.

The UN and aid organisations estimated about 80 per cent of the city was destroyed or uninhabitable.

The top US envoy for the anti-IS coalition, Brett McGurk, tweeted this week that IS fighters placed 150 explosive devices in and around a water treatment plant near Raqqa, but said it had been cleared and was being restored.

Raqqa bombs in car

PHOTO Bombs inside a vehicle used by IS militants are pictured after a demining team in Raqqa defused them.


Major defeat for Islamic State

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

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

Coalition spokesman Col Ryan Dillon tweeted on Thursday that the SDF has cleared 98 per cent of the city, adding that some militants remain holed up in a small pocket east of the stadium.