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On October 20, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the recapture of Ar Raqqah Governorate’s city of Ar Raqqah from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); ISIS had taken control of the city in January 2014. SDF-led military operations to retake Ar Raqqah began on June 6 and culminated in intense fighting in the city’s centermost neighborhoods during the final weeks of the offensive, according to international media. As military operations concluded, SDF escorted the majority of civilians remaining in the city to nearby security screening sites, media reports.
Despite the recapture of Ar Raqqah, extensive explosive hazards contamination is impeding civilian and humanitarian access to the city. To prevent the premature return of civilians to unsafe areas, the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to provide aid to conflict-affected populations in displacement sites, transit locations, and host communities throughout northeastern Syria. Relief agencies are reaching an estimated 330,000 people per month with assistance.
With more than $1.5 billion in FY 2017 funding, the U.S. Government (USG) continues to support humanitarian assistance inside Syria, as well as relief efforts to support Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Cumulatively, the USG has provided nearly $7.5 billion in humanitarian assistance for the Syria complex emergency response since FY 2012.