Syrian Kurdish forces seize new district from Islamic State in Raqqa

A USA -backed Arab-Kurd coalition fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants near Raqqa has captured the district of Al-Qadisia outside of the extremists’ self-declared capital in Syria, military officials say.Cihan Shekh Ehmed, a spokeswoman for the USA -backed militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the group’s fighters seized the western district of al-Qadisiya from IS on Monday.Asked whether the United States would also try to recover weapons, Mattis said, “We’ll do what we can”.”We’ll do what we can”, the defense secretary told reporters traveling with him to Germany Tuesday. When asked by a reporter if he envisioned the entirety of the group’s USA -supplied weapons would be taken from them following the end of the campaign against the Islamic State, Mattis said, “we’ll do what we can”.To avoid the seemingly inevitable collision between USA -backed fighters and pro-Syrian government forces, including their respective air support, Mattis indicated that the Euphrates River Valley, would be carved up into “deconfliction” areas.Mattis addressed another aspect of Syria’s tangled conflict – the USA supply of weapons to Kurdish fighters battling to recapture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqa in the north.”We’ll be recovering them during the battle, repairing them, when they don’t need certain things any more they’ll replace those with some things they do need, that sort of thing”, he said.”When they don’t need certain things any more, we’ll replace those with something they do need”, said Mattis, who is expected to meet with his Turkish defense counterpart during a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting later this week in Brussels. The U.S. also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has vowed it would never provide weapons to that group. But officials have indicated that 120 mm mortars, machine guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles were likely.The initial weapons deliveries began at the end of May, and the Pentagon said they included small arms and ammunition. IS has suffered a series of setbacks in recent months at the hands of an array of Syrian and Iraqi forces.But Mattis also noted that YPG fighters were well-armed even before the USA last month chose to offer more specialized equipment for its urban assault on Islamic State-held city of Raqqa.”If somebody comes after us, bombs us or takes a heading on us or fires on us, then under legitimate self-defence we’ll do whatever we have to do to stop it”, Mattis said.He said commanders can work it all out, “however, as you mix more forces more closely together, what worked before for deconfliction is going to take more precision”.Syrian, Russia, U.S. and coalition aircraft all fly in the increasingly crowded skies over Syria.Soldiers of People’s Self-Defense Forces of Syria found a new type of IDs of ISIL fighters in liberated areas of Raqqa.