The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Tuesday it had begun a battle to capture Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria, launching attacks from the east, west and north of the city.
Speaking to Reuters yesterday, YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud said: "The forces reached the outskirts of the city, and the major operation will start in the coming few days".
"With the worldwide coalition's warplanes and the state-of-the-art weapons they provided to us, we will seize Raqa from Daesh", Sello told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
The SDF was also trying to push into Raqqa's northwestern district of Al Andalus, as fighting continued to the north, east and west of the city.
We review the key events in Syria, including the imminent launch of an anticipated offensive on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, claims that rebels downed a military plane near Damascus, and reports that coalition airstrikes killed 21 people on the banks of the Euphrates.
The U.S. -SDF partnership has complicated relations with Turkey, which views the group's Kurdish component as an extension of a terror group operating inside its own borders. The forces have been advancing toward the city for months and now have it surrounded in three directions.
The US-led coalition of 68 nations is conducting airstrikes, ground-based and rocket-propelled artillery fire in Syria and Iraq against Daesh.
Turkey considers the PKK/PYD to be the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the USA and EU.
Talal Sillo, a spokesman for the SDF, confirmed operations had begun in co-ordination with the US-led coalition. Operation Inherent Resolve says the "SDF have encouraged civilians to depart Raqqah so that they do not become trapped, used as human shields or become targets for ISIS snipers". Iraqi forces have captured much of Mosul, the largest city held by extremists. In an emailed statement to Newsweek, a coalition spokesperson said: "The coalition takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and will assess these allegations, as we do all allegations of possible civilian casualties". Speaking to deputies from the ruling AK Party after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had launched their battle for Raqqa, Yildirim said Turkey was taking the necessary measures on the issue. Raqqa is on the Euphrates river.
The Syrian war began in March 2011 with widespread protests against the regime, but it has since morphed into a multi-front war that has left over 400,000 people dead.
In a statement carried by Reuters, the SDF said that it will announce "the start of the fifth stage of the campaign to liberate Raqqa which will include an assault on the city".
A U.S. military official said the fight in Raqqa "will be long and difficult".
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