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Raqqa battle over but aid effort just starting, says group

A female fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces is seen in Raqqa October 17, 2017. — Reuters picA female fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces is seen in Raqqa October 17, 2017. — Reuters picBEIRUT, Oct 17 — The city of Raqqa has been taken from the Islamic State group but the humanitarian crisis in the region is still escalating, Save the Children said today.

“The military offensive in Raqqa may be coming to an end, but the humanitarian crisis is greater than ever,” the aid group’s Syria director Sonia Khush said in a statement.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-Arab alliance that has been fighting to capture Raqqa since June, announced today that they had fully captured the city.

The military development leaves the jihadists’ self-styled “caliphate” in tatters but Save the Children warned that “some 270,000 people who have fled the Raqqa fighting are still in critical need of aid, and camps are bursting at the seams.”

It said that most Raqqa families had no homes to go back to and that thousands of civilians were still being displaced in the eastern Deir Ezzor province, where fighting was still raging on Tuesday.

The aid group said that the reconstruction effort would require massive investment and that funding would also be needed to bring children back to school.

“Many are plagued by nightmares from witnessing horrific violence and will need extensive psychological support,” the aid group said.

After IS captured Raqqa in 2014, the city become synonymous with the jihadist group’s worst abuses. The SDF yesterday retook an infamous roundabout where IS used to carry out public beheadings and crucifixions. — AFP

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