Raqa battle over but aid effort just starting: group

Beirut (AFP) –


The city of Raqa has been taken from the Islamic State group but the humanitarian crisis in the region is still escalating, Save the Children said Tuesday.

"The military offensive in Raqa 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 Raqa since June, announced Tuesday 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 Raqa fighting are still in critical need of aid, and camps are bursting at the seams."

It said that most Raqa 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 Raqa in 2014, the city become synonymous with the jihadist group's worst abuses. The SDF on Monday retook an infamous roundabout where IS used to carry out public beheadings and crucifixions.