About 2,000 Islamic State fighters are estimated to remain in the Syrian city of Raqqa, fighting for their survival in the face of an offensive by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy for the coalition against Islamic State, said the SDF had cleared about 45 percent of Raqqa since launching an attack in early June to seize Islamic State’s stronghold in northern Syria.
“Today in Raqqa ISIS is fighting for every last block … and fighting for their own survival” McGurk told reporters.
Some 2,000 ISIS fighters are left in the city and “most likely will die in Raqqa,” he said.
The assault on Raqqa coincided with the final stages of a campaign to drive Islamic State from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the Islamist militants were defeated last month.
McGurk said Islamic State has lost 27,000 square miles (70,000 sq km) of the territory it once held in the two countries – 78 percent of what they had seized in Iraq and 58 percent of what they held in Syria.
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