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Oct 19, 8:31 AM EDT

Kurdish female militia vows to keep fighting Islamic State


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Kurdish female militia vows to keep fighting Islamic State

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BEIRUT (AP) -- A Kurdish female militia that took part in freeing the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State group said Thursday it will continue the fight to liberate women from the extremists' brutal rule.

Nisreen Abdullah of the Women's Protection Units, or YPJ, read a statement in Raqqa's Paradise Square, where IS fighters once carried out public killings. She said the all-women force lost 30 fighters in the four-month battle.

Under Islamic State rule, women were forced to wear all-encompassing veils and could be stoned to death for adultery. Hundreds of women and girls from Iraq's Yazidi minority were captured and forced into sexual slavery.

"We have achieved our goal, which was to pound the strongholds of terrorism in its capital, liberate women and restore honor to Yazidi women by liberating dozens of slaves," Abdullah said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of several factions including the YPJ, said Tuesday that military operations in Raqqa have ended and that their fighters have taken full control of the city.

The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Col. Ryan Dillon, tweeted Thursday that the SDF has cleared 98 percent of the city, adding that some militants remain holed up in a small pocket east of the stadium. Dillon added that buildings and tunnels are being checked for holdouts.

The SDF is expected to hold a news conference in central Raqqa on Friday during which the city will be declared free of extremists for the first time in nearly four years.

The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for IS, which has seen its self-styled Islamic caliphate steadily shrink since last year. IS took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicenter of its brutal rule.

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