RAQQA, SYRIA (CBSMiami) – U.S. backed fighters in northern Syria say they are days away from defeating ISIS in the extremist stronghold of Raqqa.
There are thought to be just 250 ISIS fighters left in the city and around 2,000 civilians trapped.
The drive to the frontline in Raqqa is at breakneck speed in a battered Humvee because ISIS snipers still lurk in the broken-down city.
ISIS fighters are holed up in what used to be Raqqa’s main hospital.
If U.S.-backed militiamen spot movement, they open fire but fighting there has been sporadic for days because they don’t want to destroy what’s left of the hospital and because ISIS has human shields.
Mike Hogan, from Arizona, worked as a waiter before he volunteered to fight with the Syrian militiamen. He said one of his comrades fell to ISIS.
“He got shot by a sniper through his wrist and into his chest,” Hogan said, talking about how his comrade died right in front of him.
“He spent two hours lying there while we were trying to stabilize. The ambulance that came in to take him out arrived 20 minutes after he keeled over,” said Hogan.
In a camp north of Raqqa one squalid corner is reserved for the wives of ISIS fighters and their children. Their husbands have disappeared or are now in prison.
Mohammad Ramadan is just 13, and said ISIS trained him to use weapons and exposed him to horror.
“They brought a man in a car and tied him up for three hours… then they cut off his head, and put it on top of a fence,” said Ramadan in Arabic.
Raqqa will be rebuilt and the stench of death all around the city will disappear but the people of Raqqa will be haunted for a very long time to come.