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US-backed Forces Claim IS Fighters Pushed From Raqqa Old City

FILE - Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance, walk through the rubble in an eastern area of the embattled city of Raqqa in northern Syria, Aug. 15, 2017.

United States-backed fighters in Raqqa say they have taken the last districts of the Old City from Islamic State jihadists.

"We declare to our people the liberation of the old city of Raqqa," the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement.

Talal Sello, a spokesman for the SDF, told French news agency AFP that coalition fighters are now "on the edges of IS's security quarter in the city center, where most of its main bases are."

About 25,000 civilians remain trapped with the remaining jihadists, who are holed up in the Raqqa city center. Islamic State routinely uses civilians as human shields.

The SDF began its campaign to recapture the former de facto capital of the so-called IS caliphate in June with U.S. air support.

While the SDF said it has recaptured the Old City, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said SDF forces continue battling with IS fighters in a small portion of the Old City.

A U.S. military spokesman has said he is not yet able to confirm whether the city's been retaken.