Politics US-backed forces have retaken half of Raqqa from ISIS — Here's what the fighting on the ground looks like

  • Published:

Coalition fighters have surrounded Raqqa, but ISIS continues to put up stiff resistance.

An SDF fighter looks through a window in Raqqa. play

An SDF fighter looks through a window in Raqqa.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

US-backed forces in Syria announced Thursday that they have captured nearly half of ISIS' de facto capital of Raqqa, Associated Press reported.

The Syrian Democratic Forces — largely made up of Kurdish, Sunni and Christian fighters — began their assault on Raqqa on June 6, and have since taken about 45% of the city, according to Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.

Still, US-backed forces have faced “stiff, sporadic resistance” resistance from ISIS militants, Dillon said.

Here's what the fighting on the ground looks like.

The SDF began its assault on Raqqa early last month and have made steady progress since.

The SDF began its assault on Raqqa early last month and have made steady progress since. play

The SDF began its assault on Raqqa early last month and have made steady progress since.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


They shot dozens of mortars at ISIS militants on Thursday as they continue to make gains in the city. Coalition fighters have attacked ISIS from the east and west, and are about 800 meters away from linking up, according to AP.

They shot dozens of mortars at ISIS militants on Thursday as they continue to make gains in the city. Coalition fighters have attacked ISIS from the east and west, and are about 800 meters away from linking up, according to AP. play

They shot dozens of mortars at ISIS militants on Thursday as they continue to make gains in the city. Coalition fighters have attacked ISIS from the east and west, and are about 800 meters away from linking up, according to AP.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


But SDF progress has been slowed by enemy snipers, as well as ISIS' continued reliance on suicide attacks and even using civilians as human shields. A Kurdish fighter is seen here firing at ISIS militants as he runs across a street.

But SDF progress has been slowed by enemy snipers, as well as ISIS' continued reliance on suicide attacks and even using civilians as human shields. A Kurdish fighter is seen here firing at ISIS militants as he runs across a street. play

But SDF progress has been slowed by enemy snipers, as well as ISIS' continued reliance on suicide attacks and even using civilians as human shields. A Kurdish fighter is seen here firing at ISIS militants as he runs across a street.

(Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)


"Huge amounts of explosives" have also been planted by ISIS, which have slowed SDF's advance, AP said. An SDF fighter is seen here defusing an ISIS bomb.

"Huge amounts of explosives" have also been planted by ISIS, which have slowed SDF's advance, AP said. An SDF fighter is seen here defusing an ISIS bomb. play

"Huge amounts of explosives" have also been planted by ISIS, which have slowed SDF's advance, AP said. An SDF fighter is seen here defusing an ISIS bomb.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


Coalition airstrikes have greatly helped SDF forces. But they have also killed at least 2,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria since President Trump took office, according to the monitoring group Airwars, which is about how many were killed throughout Obama's presidency.

Coalition airstrikes have greatly helped SDF forces. But they have also killed at least 2,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria since President Trump took office, according to the monitoring group Airwars, which is about how many were killed throughout Obama's presidency. play

Coalition airstrikes have greatly helped SDF forces. But they have also killed at least 2,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria since President Trump took office, according to the monitoring group Airwars, which is about how many were killed throughout Obama's presidency.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


Here is a coalition helicopter firing a missile at ISIS positions.

Here is a coalition helicopter firing a missile at ISIS positions. play

Here is a coalition helicopter firing a missile at ISIS positions.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


There are also about 1,000 US troops in Syria advising and backing up SDF forces. Below is a US soldier standing next to Syrian children on a road outside of Raqqa.

There are also about 1,000 US troops in Syria advising and backing up SDF forces. Below is a US soldier standing next to Syrian children on a road outside of Raqqa. play

There are also about 1,000 US troops in Syria advising and backing up SDF forces. Below is a US soldier standing next to Syrian children on a road outside of Raqqa.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


But US troops aren't the only westerners helping in the fight against ISIS in Syria. This is 28-year-old Kevin Howard, a former military contractor from California and SDF volunteer currently in Raqqa.

But US troops aren't the only westerners helping in the fight against ISIS in Syria. This is 28-year-old Kevin Howard, a former military contractor from California and SDF volunteer currently in Raqqa. play

But US troops aren't the only westerners helping in the fight against ISIS in Syria. This is 28-year-old Kevin Howard, a former military contractor from California and SDF volunteer currently in Raqqa.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


Here is another SDF volunteer, 30-year-old Macer Gifford from London, who can be seen running to avoid ISIS sniper fire.

Here is another SDF volunteer, 30-year-old Macer Gifford from London, who can be seen running to avoid ISIS sniper fire. play

Here is another SDF volunteer, 30-year-old Macer Gifford from London, who can be seen running to avoid ISIS sniper fire.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


And this is Taylor Hudson, a 33-year old SDF volunteer from California, giving an interview to Associated Press. These three volunteers are just a few of many westerners who have volunteered to fight against ISIS.

And this is Taylor Hudson, a 33-year old SDF volunteer from California, giving an interview to Associated Press. These three volunteers are just a few of many westerners who have volunteered to fight against ISIS. play

And this is Taylor Hudson, a 33-year old SDF volunteer from California, giving an interview to Associated Press. These three volunteers are just a few of many westerners who have volunteered to fight against ISIS.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


SDF fighters sometimes pass through buildings to hide from ISIS sniper fire. ISIS has snipers "everywhere," according to Alice Martins of the Washington Post, slowing the SDF's progress.

SDF fighters sometimes pass through buildings to hide from ISIS sniper fire. ISIS has snipers "everywhere," according to Alice Martins of the Washington Post, slowing the SDF's progress. play

SDF fighters sometimes pass through buildings to hide from ISIS sniper fire. ISIS has snipers "everywhere," according to Alice Martins of the Washington Post, slowing the SDF's progress.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


An SDF sniper scans the road below as he lays in an elevated position.

An SDF sniper scans the road below as he lays in an elevated position. play

An SDF sniper scans the road below as he lays in an elevated position.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


The war has certainly taken its toll on the Kurdish population. Below two Kurds pray over their relative's grave who was killed in Raqqa.

The war has certainly taken its toll on the Kurdish population. Below two Kurds pray over their relative's grave who was killed in Raqqa. play

The war has certainly taken its toll on the Kurdish population. Below two Kurds pray over their relative's grave who was killed in Raqqa.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


Not to mention those in the fight, like this SDF fighter photographed crying over a fellow soldier being shot and wounded by an ISIS sniper.

Not to mention those in the fight, like this SDF fighter photographed crying over a fellow soldier being shot and wounded by an ISIS sniper. play

Not to mention those in the fight, like this SDF fighter photographed crying over a fellow soldier being shot and wounded by an ISIS sniper.

(Thomson Reuters)


The battle has also taken its toll on the civilian population, even after three years of ISIS rule. These are children in a refugee camp in northeast Syria who were able to escape Raqqa.

The battle has also taken its toll on the civilian population, even after three years of ISIS rule. These are children in a refugee camp in northeast Syria who were able to escape Raqqa. play

The battle has also taken its toll on the civilian population, even after three years of ISIS rule. These are children in a refugee camp in northeast Syria who were able to escape Raqqa.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)


It's estimated that 20,000-50,000 civilians are still trapped in the city, with coalition forces having it completely surrounded. A child who was also able to escape Raqqa is seen below with his cat in a refugee camp in northeast Syria.

It's estimated that 20,000-50,000 civilians are still trapped in the city, with coalition forces having it completely surrounded. A child who was also able to escape Raqqa is seen below with his cat in a refugee camp in northeast Syria. play

It's estimated that 20,000-50,000 civilians are still trapped in the city, with coalition forces having it completely surrounded. A child who was also able to escape Raqqa is seen below with his cat in a refugee camp in northeast Syria.

(Hussein Malla/Associated Press)