News Worms
News Worms


Backed Syrian Kurdish forces enter old city of Raqqa

Backed Syrian Kurdish forces enter old city of Raqqa

The U.S.is providing battlefield support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces trying to capture Raqqa from the Islamic State group.

The U.S. -led coalition estimates that Raqqa, which the Islamic State seized from Syrian rebels in 2014 during their lightning advance in Syria and Iraq, is defended by 3,000 to 4,000 Islamist militants.

After a string of victories in the surrounding province, including the key town of Tabqa and the adjacent dam, the SDF has sealed off the approaches to Raqqa city from the north, east and west.

Amaq, a news agency affiliated to Daesh, released images of what is said were white phosphorus munitions lighting the city of Raqqa that were dropped by the US-led coalition.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on Saturday that the US-led coalition had used white phosphorus in Raqqa, the use of which is banned, under worldwide law, in populated areas.

Three bodies of IS fighters lay in the eerily empty streets of western Raqqa, and SDF commanders took up positions on the rooftops of one-storey houses.

The SDF forces have captured several neighbourhoods in Raqqa city since Tuesday, including the eastern neighbourhood of Mashlab.

Previously, the USA used white phosphorous as an "incendiary weapon" during the battle to reclaim the Iraqi city of Fallujah from al-Qaeda affiliated militants in 2004.

US CENTCOM, which reports the coalition's strikes and engagements on IS targets reported "nine strikes" on targets inside Raqqa city on Thursday but made no public mention of any specific white phosphorus attacks.

Iraqi forces have retaken much of Mosul, the northern Iraqi city the hardline group seized in June 2014 and from which Baghdadi declared himself "caliph" or leader of all Muslims shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, the SDF is urging the IS fighters to surrender to the US -backed forces in exchange for "a humanitarian treatment".

The fighters have also entered Raqqa's western neighborhood of Sabahiya and the industrial district in the east. A video said to show SDF officers within the complex shows heavy damage to the factory.

They quoted a statement published by the Islamic State's media arm, Wilayat al-Raqqa.

An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under ISIL rule in Raqqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.

Over the weekend, a group of Syrian journalists who go by the name "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently" tweeted under the hashtag, #Raqqa_is_burning (#الرقة_تحترق), posting in both Arabic and English that the "USA and coalition are killing civilians with no reason".

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