US-backed force scours Daesh ex-fort in Raqa

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, October 2, 2017
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US-backed fighters on Monday combed through a central district of Syria’s Raqa that once housed key Daesh group command centres, recovering communication equipment and weapons used by the militants.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured around 90 per cent of Daesh’s one-time bastion Raqa, including about half of the Al Nahda neighbourhood on the western edge of the city centre.

After hard-fought battles against Daesh this week, SDF units on Monday were searching house-by-house for weapons or documents left behind by Daesh.

“This neighbourhood was a strategic place for Daesh. Most of their bases were here, including command centres and ammunition depots,” said local SDF commander Gabar Derek, using the Arabic acronym for Daesh.

Many of the buildings in the area are large stone complexes formerly used by Syria’s government, then taken up as bases by Daesh before the SDF moved in.

“A few days ago we advanced into a position used by Daesh and found walkie-talkies. We took out a lot but there was a part we could not remove until today,” said Derek, 25.

As he spoke, his fighters unloaded an armoured vehicle full of dozens of walkie-talkies, military fatigues and boots, a gas mask, rocket-propelled grenades, and even a serrated sword retrieved from the former Daesh command centre.

“Walkie-talkies are important so we know what channels Daesh are using to communicate, how they’re moving, and what their plans are. We’re monitoring them,” said Derek, a floral scarf wrapped around his spiky black hair to keep it out of his eyes.

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