Iraq – Syria – Conflict

Kurdish, Arab US-Backed Forces Battle ISIS near Syria Stronghold, Iraqi City

Kurdish, Arab US-Backed Forces Battle ISIS near Syria Stronghold, Iraqi City
Thu May 26, 2016 22:35:20

Kurdish-Arab fighters aided by American soldiers battled the Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) group north of its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa Thursday as Iraqi forces edged towards the terrorist-held city of Fallujah, AFP says.

The twin offensives are two of the most significant ground assaults against the extremists since they declared a self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Near the front line north of Raqqa city, an AFP photographer saw US soldiers on Wednesday assisting a Kurdish-dominated alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The SDF is working its way through villages and farmland south of the town of Ain Issa, less than 60 kilometers (40 miles) from Raqqa city.

It said its fighters had “advanced seven kilometers from Ain Issa and liberated five villages and four fields.”

“We liberated the villages of Fatisah, Namroudiya, and Wastah as well as several fields. The coming battle will hold a lot of big surprises,” SDF field commander Baraa al-Ghanem told AFP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said SDF fighters on Thursday were shelling ISIS positions near Ain Issa as warplanes from the US-led coalition carried out nearly non-stop air raids.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, updated its death toll for the five-year war, which it says has now killed more than 280,000 people.

S/SH 11

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