U.S.-backed forced have breached a perimeter wall that surrounds the Old City of Raqqa, reportedly the last stronghold of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
On Monday night, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a statement confirming that Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — supported by coalition fighters — had found a way through the historic Rafiqah Wall.
"Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of Raqqa by opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City," CENTCOM said in the statement. "The portions targeted were 25-meter sections and will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-meter wall," it added, without specifying where those portions were.
Citing local media, CNN reports that The Rafiqah Wall is approximately 3.1 miles long, more than 12 feet high and more than three feet thick. According to CENTCOM, ISIS fighters had taken positions there to defend the city and planted explosive devices at breaks in the wall.
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The U.S. envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, called breaching the wall "a key milestone in the campaign to liberate the city" on his twitter page. Earlier on Monday, McGurk tweeted that ISIS terrorists were "down to less than one square kilometer" in Mosul and totally surrounded in Raqqa.