Militias to clear Raqqa of IS within hours

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IS make last stand in Raqqa after losing control of headquarters

USA -backed forces say they took "full control" of the city of Raqqa, long the extremist group Islamic State's main stronghold in Syria, following heavy fighting against a few dozen militants remaining in the city.

An alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have forced the Islamic State out of Raqqa, the so-called caliphate's former capital.

Nuri Mahmoud, spokesman for the People's Protection Units (YPG) - the SDF's Kurdish section - said that his forces were making sure Raqqa had been cleared of IS fighters, particularly in the vicinity of the national hospital.

The SDF said it may achieve full victory in Raqa very soon, but stressed that fierce fighting was still under way near the stadium.

In a sign that the four-month battle for Raqqa had been in its last stages, Dillon said there were no coalition air strikes there on Monday.

The defeat of IS in Raqqa was a victory "the whole world was waiting for", Omar Alloush, a member of the Raqqa Civil Council formed to run the city after its liberation, said.

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He added the SDF was combing the city for any remaining jihadists who had not surrendered or been killed.

"During these clashes, the National Hospital was liberated and cleared from the Daesh mercenaries, and 22 of these foreign mercenaries were killed there", said Bali, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

A local field commander said no Islamic State fighters remained even in their two remaining city strongholds.

"The end of the battle is fast approaching, maybe today or tomorrow", SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP.

The stadium and hospital became the last major positions held by Daesh after some of its fighters quit, leaving only foreign extremists to mount a last stand.

The Al-Naim traffic circle had been dubbed the "Roundabout of Hell" by residents under IS's more than three years of rule over the city.

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After IS captured Raqa in 2014, the city become synonymous with the militant group's worst abuses and was transformed into a planning center for attacks overseas.

The offensive has pushed the Islamic State out of most of northern Syria, while a rival offensive by the Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran and Shia militias, has driven the jihadis from the central desert.

The only populated areas still controlled by the group in Syria are the towns and villages downstream of Deir al-Zor, along the Euphrates valley.

But yesterday they captured the hospital and stadium in quick succession, effectively ending IS's more than three-year presence in the city.

"The Daesh group is collapsing under pressure from the regime in Deir Ezzor province", it said.

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