• US-backed force gains ground on IS in Syria’s Raqa


    BEIRUT: US-backed fighters gained ground against the Islamic State group in the streets of Raqa on Wednesday, their command said, a day after breaking into the jihadist’s Syrian bastion. The Syrian Democratic Forces have spent months advancing on the northern city and finally thrust into the eastern neighborhood of Al-Meshleb on Tuesday. Early on Wednesday, the Arab and Kurdish fighters captured the neighborhood and the Harqal citadel to the west of the city, the command of Operation Wrath of the Euphrates said. The citadel sits on a hilltop roughly two kilometers (just over a mile) from the city limits. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there was also fighting inside the Division 17 military complex, around two kilometers north of Raqa, but the area had been heavily mined by IS. The monitoring group said the US-led coalition had carried out heavy bombing raids on the city overnight. An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under IS rule in Raqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.



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