The Latest: Group says 270,000 displaced from Raqqa need aid

AP News
Posted: Oct 17, 2017 7:50 AM
The Latest: Group says 270,000 displaced from Raqqa need aid

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria as Islamic State militants make their last stand in the city of Raqqa (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

In international charity group says tens of thousands of people who fled the northern Syrian city of Raqqa are in bad need of aid and that the "camps are bursting at the seams."

Save the Children's staemet on Tuesday came as U.S.-backed Syrian fighters said they liberated Raqqa. The city suffered major destruction since early June when the offensive against the Islamic State group there began.

The charity says some 270,000 people who fled the Raqqa fighting are still in critical need of aid. With the high levels of destruction reported in and around Raqqa, most families have nowhere to return home and are likely to stay in camps for months or years to come.

Sonia Khush, Save the Children's director for Syria, described conditions in the camps where displaced from Raqqa are staying as "miserable and families do not have enough food, water or medicine."

Khush said the "children have suffered for years" and that they "must not be forgotten once the fighting subsides."


2 p.m.

A commander with the U.S.-backed Syrian forces battling the Islamic State group says the city of Raqqa has been liberated from Islamic State militants and that combing operations are underway to clear the city of land mines and extremist sleeper cells.

Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo told The Associated Press on Tuesday that there are no longer clashes going on in the city.

Sillo says a formal declaration will follow befitting "the fall of the capital of terrorism."

Dozens of militants who refused to surrender had made their last stand in the city's stadium, which had become notorious as a prison and dungeons for the group.

It wasn't immediately clear if the IS militants are still holed up inside the stadium.

The city of Raqqa fell to the Islamic State group in 2014 and became the de facto capital of their self-styled caliphate.


11:20 a.m.

The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria say they have captured the city hospital in Raqqa, which served as an IS headquarters.

The facility was one of the militants' last holdouts in Raqqa and had doubled as a hospital and an IS command center.

The capture of the hospital on Tuesday leaves IS militants cornered in and around the notorious municipal stadium in Raqqa, once the group's de facto capital.

Musafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, says 22 IS militants were killed in the advance on the hospital. He says fighting is still underway with militants who had refused to surrender.

Raqqa's stadium also served as an arms depot and one of the Islamic State militants' largest jails in their self-styled caliphate.