Clearance operations continue in city as Anti-Daesh, Russian officials discuss military operations.
Nearly all of Daesh’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa in Syria has been cleared of the terror fighters, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
"Today in Syria, ISIS is losing its grip. After more than four months of operations, Raqqa is more than 90 percent cleared," Anti-Daesh coalition Army Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another name for Daesh.
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), however, were emphatic in public statements that Daesh in Raqqa has been defeated and control of the city has changed hands.
Dillion's comment stopped short of declaring victory and he said clearance operations continue and parts of the city are still controlled by the terror group.
"We expect our Syrian Democratic Force partners to hit pockets of resistance as the final parts of the city are cleared," he said.
The U.S. has supported a number of Arab militia groups under the umbrella of the SDF, including the PKK/PYD that is considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state.
American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.
The eventual liberation of Raqqa creates a situation in which the U.S. and Russia will be forced to collaborate in Syria where the regime of Bashar al-Assad is backed by Moscow.
Dillon acknowledged Russian and coalition officials met for a second time regarding military operations in Syria more than a week ago.
"It was at the same level, about the one-star level, from the coalition," he added.
"And it was the same line of discussions that talked about the deconfliction and where Russian and pro-regime forces and Syrian Democratic Forces would go, further on down the MERV [Middle Euphrates River Valley where Daesh fighters remain], and what kind of deconfliction measures were going to be put in place,” he said.