Published: Tue, March 28, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Backed forces battle for Islamic State-held air base in Syria

Backed forces battle for Islamic State-held air base in Syria

IS ordered residents to evacuate the Syrian city of Raqqa on Sunday following reports on its propaganda agency Amaq that the dam "is threatened with collapse at any moment because of American strikes and a large rise in water levels".

The training was being carried out with help from SDF-allied security forces from Manbij and other areas in northern Syria, and from the USA -led coalition.

The Kurdish-led SDF is on an offensive against Raqqa from different directions, and captured eight villages in the countryside of that area on Friday.

Syrian government forces, backed by the army air force, also pounded Daesh positions in Dayr al-Zawr suburbs, dealing heavy blows to the Takfiris.

A media representative for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State said it was looking into the Observatory's assertion. USA apache helicopters launched air strikes and US special forces gave advice to SDF commanders.

The US has provided substantial air and ground support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who are closing in on Raqqa.

The worldwide coalition battling the Islamic State group in its Syrian stronghold of Raqa will begin a final push on the city in the coming days, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today.

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But it warned that damage to the dam "could lead to massive scale flooding across Raqqa and as far away as Deir Az-Zour" province to the southeast.

Speaking after Friday's start of a new round of United Nations -mediated peace talks in Geneva, Bashar al-Ja'afari also insisted that "American warplanes" had bombed a school in the village of Mansourah, west of Raqqa, a day earlier and were responsible for the deaths of 237 civilians among some 500 people fleeing Raqqa.

Although several groups blamed coalition air strikes the coalition claimed it had no information that it had struck civilians near Raqqa but said the reports would be investigated.

Le Drian spoke on CNEWS television on Friday. The talks come amid a recent escalation in fighting in Syria, notably in and around Damascus.

Online, experts say the upcoming battle for Raqqa is not yet a topic of discussion for the group's fighters or its supporters on forums or encrypted chat channels, with hardly any mention of the battle that awaits, despite the encroachment of the Kurdish and Arab fighters. "This will be a very hard battle but essential", Drian said.

The offensive to destroy ISIS in Syria took a big step forward recently with USA military advisers, helicopters, and artillery helping position a force of about 500 soldiers near a strategic damn outside of Raqqa, ISIS's Syrian capital.

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