US-backed forces have breached the wall around the Old City section of Raqqa, Syria, as they advance a month-old offensive to oust the Islamic State group from its de facto capital.
A statement from the U.S.-led coalition Monday said the Syrian Democratic Forces overcame “heavy ISIS resistance” and that coalition aircraft used airstrikes to create two 25-meter holes in the Rafiqa Wall away from other breaks where the militants had planted mines and car bombs.
“Unlike ISIS who deliberately destroyed the ruins of Palmyra and the Al-Nuri mosque and uses sites such as the Rafiqa Wall, hospitals, schools and mosques as weapons storage facilities and fighting positions, coalition forces are making a great effort to protect civilians and preserve these sites for generations,” said coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon.
Islamic State fighters destroyed the Al-Nuri mosque last month as Iraqi forces also backed by the coalition closed in during their offensive aimed at securing the last remaining sections of Mosul.
The ancient Syrian city of Palmyra has been devastated by the Islamic State group since fighters first seized it in 2015 and destroyed ancient monuments.