Christians Rescued From ISIS in Syria's Raqqa

Rescued Christians in Raqqa province in Syria

"As for vehicle bombs, they don't use them every day, but if our forces are advancing down a street, then they deploy them".

An estimated 10,000 to 25,000 people are stuck in the city, the Islamic State group's main stronghold, said United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who noted that "exact figures remain hard to verify due to the situation on the ground". A separate campaign drove the group from its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul last month. A medic working at the command post, who gave her name as Jiyan, did not give a figure for the number of wounded being brought in, but said it was lower than in some previous battles.

The Syriac Military Council (MFS), which consists of Syriac Christian men and women fighting ISIS under the SDF umbrella, said last month that it was working to safely extract the remaining Christian families in Raqqa. "Daesh is known for it's brutal actions and behavior", he added.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army. Reuters also reported the presence of militants from the Russian region of Chechnya operating as snipers, well hidden thanks to Raqqa's urban landscape.

A third of the returnees said they went back to "protect their assets" while one-quarter cited "improved economic conditions", IOM said.

"Maybe 600 Daesh have surrendered".

At least 30 civilians were killed in US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State positions in Syria's Raqqa city, a monitor group has said.

The U.S. coalition and its allies say they take care to avoid civilian casualties, another reason for advancing cautiously.

According to SDF fighters, even liberated areas of the city are hard to get into because the streets are rigged with landmines.

Dillon says the significance is that the SDF, despite IS' best efforts, have successfully battled across the entire city from both sides and have joined forces. About 95 percent of the Christians were able to flee, 22-year-old fighter Matay Hanna told Middle East Eye. Sixty-two people were reportedly killed in airstrikes on 26 July in residential areas, while 15 members of the same family, including children, were killed in the Shammas district two days later.

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