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Syrian forces breach Raqqa’s Old Wall in IS fight – US

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    Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa. Photo: June 2017Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption The SDF, supported by US-led coalition air strikes, has spent months encircling Raqqa

    US-backed Syrian forces have breached the wall at Raqqa’s Old City as they try to retake the city from so-called Islamic State, the US military says.

    It says the coalition helped the advance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) by firing on two sections of the historic Rafiqah Wall.

    The SDF, supported by US-led coalition air strikes, has spent months encircling the city.

    IS seized Raqqa in 2014, proclaiming it the capital of a “caliphate”.

    The city is an important hub for the jihadist group’s operations, and is reportedly defended by up to 4,000 fighters.

    “Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of [Raqqa] by opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City,” the US Central Command said in a statement.

    The SDF is an Arab-Kurdish alliance that was formed in 2015.

    Last week, the SDF said its fighters had fully encircled IS in Raqqa.

    The US-backed forces have been gradually advancing on the city since November, and launched an offensive to take it on 6 June.

    The coalition has said the capture of Raqqa will deliver a “decisive blow” to the jihadist group.

    The battle for the city has been brutal for the civilians there.

    The UN says that at least 173 were killed in June, and that the actual figure could be far higher, stressing that “civilians must not be sacrificed for the sake of rapid military victories”.

    It is believed that up to 100,000 people are trapped by the fighting. Reports continue to emerge of IS militants preventing civilians from fleeing.

    View the original article:

    More than 300,000 people have lost their lives in six years of conflict in Syria, which began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad before escalating into a full-scale civil war. Eleven million people have been displaced by the fighting.

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