Overcoming heavy Islamic State resistance, Syrian Democratic Forces breached the old city of Raqqa, Syria, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of Raqqa, by opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the old city, task force officials said.

Islamic State fighters were using the historic wall as a fighting position and planted mines and roadside bombs at several of the breaks in the wall, officials said.

SDF fighters would have been channelled through these locations and were extremely vulnerable as they were targeted with vehicle-borne bombs and indirect fire, as well as direct fire from heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and snipers as they tried to breach the old city, officials noted.

Conducting targeted strikes on two small portions of the wall allowed coalition and partner forces to breach the old city at a locations of their choosing, denied Islamic State the ability to use pre-positioned mines, roadside and car bombs, protected SDF and civilian lives, and preserved the integrity of the greatest portion of the wall. The portions targeted were 25-meter sections and will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-metre wall, the officials said.

“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 future generations,” said OIR spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon.

“The most humane way to save the people of Raqqa is to swiftly and decisively defeat Islamic State, who have terrorised the people of Raqqa for more than three years. Only this way, can the people of Raqqa be saved and city return to peace,” Dillon said.

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