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Backed Syrian force attacks IS-held Raqqa

Iraqi forces have been tied up in Mosul since October, where they have faced stiff resistance in the form of suicide vehicle bombs, rocket attacks and booby-trapped buildings. Raqqa is now surrounded by Arab and Kurdish militias from the north, east and west.She said fierce clashes were also raging on the northern outskirts of the city. “With the global coalition’s warplanes and the state-of-the-art weapons they provided to us, we will seize Raqqa from Daesh”, Sello told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for IS. Defeating IS in Raqqa would “deliver a decisive blow to the idea of ISIS as a physical caliphate”, coalition commander Lieutenant General Steve Townsend said.It is east of Syria’s second city Aleppo, 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of the Turkish border, and less than 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the border with Iraq.He says SDF fighters have attacked IS positions on the edges of Raqqa at three points.The SDF is a coalition of forces, but dominated by the YPG. On Saturday the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, part of the SDF, told Reuters the fifth and final stage of the attack would start in the coming few days. “We expect a fight very similar to what we’ve seen in Mosul”, he said, while adding that Raqqa is a much smaller city.Spokesperson for the Syriac Military Council, G. Kino, said the battle for Raqqa would open a “new chapter in the history of Syria and especially for the civilians”.The observatory reported that the death toll of suspected US-led coalition air attacks that allegedly targeted boats carrying people who tried to flee the fighting in Raqqa city on Monday has risen to 21 civilians.He said women and children were among the dead, but he could not immediately give a specific number.According to the sources, the Syrian wing of the PKK supported by the United States is advancing in the district of Mashlab towards the industrial city and the ancient walls of Raqqa enclosing the historic center.According to the Britain-based Observatory, the latest coalition raid took place on Monday morning.More than 320,000 people have been killed since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011 with anti-government protests.The battles are coupled with intense and heavy shelling by the USA -led coalition’s warplanes, and artillery shelling by the SDF, the Observatory said.Their assault has been backed by air strikes from the Washington-led coalition bombing IS in Iraq and Syria since 2014.The monitor recorded the coalition s deadliest month for Syrian civilians between April 23 and May 23, with 225 civilians killed.