10/17/2017, 09.29
SYRIA
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Arab-Kurdish coalition takes infamous Raqqa square used for executions

Decapitated and crucified bodies remained hanging on poles or from lanterns for days. The offensive of Syrian Democratic Forces (Fsd) continues in the "capital" of the Caliphate. Currently, jihadists still control 10% of the territory, including the main hospital and the stadium. The structure is used as prison and weapon storage. Highly symbolic victory for coalition.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - US-backed Arab-Kurdish forces are locked in the final battle against Islamic State militias (IS, formerly Isis) for the conquest of Raqqa, long considered the capital of the "Caliphate" in Syria. In the context of the offensive, troops have wrested the infamous public square where extremists executed people by crucifixion and decapitation. Official sources of the coalition report that the fall of the city "is a matter of days".

Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (FDS), points out that clashes in Al-Naim Square (Paradise Square) had been ongoing since October 15th, with jihadist militias engaged in an attempt to repel the offensive. The provisional toll speaks of nine ISIS fighters and 12 others killed who surrendered after handing over control of the area. For many, this is the "crucial" moment of the operation "Wrath of the Euphrates".

Paradise Square has long been the symbol of the reign of jihadist terror. After proclaiming the "Caliphate" in Raqqa, militants used the central square as the scene of their macabre executions, forcing the same population to assist through public announcements on megaphones and loud speakers.

Decapitated bodies and crucified corpses were left hanging for days in the area, on posts and lanterns. Each body bore a sign announcing their "crime". Often, among these so-called crimes was smoking, attending a ball game, or listening to music.

A high-ranking Kurdish commander points out that so far, the FDS troops have not yet completed a comprehensive survey in the area to see what has remained of the jihadist madness. However, he speaks of "symbolic" capture because it "breaks" their dreams of conquest and has  "driven them out of the heart of their kingdom."

At present Isis still controls about 10% of Raqqa, including the main hospital and the stadium, which is not far from the square. The sports facility is still be used by the remaining militiamen - 275 in all, according to the latest information - as a prison and arms depot.

Local activists and witnesses report that militants who have been surrendered have been locked in prisons controlled by Arab-Kurdish forces in the nearby town Tabqa. They are first questioned, then postponed to trial. Many of the jihadists still at large and committed to fighting are believed to be foreigners. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, these include the "mastermind" of the attacks in France that have caused dozens of deaths and injuries, a French (or Belgian) citizen of North African origin. 

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