Offensive to drive ISIS from Raqqa 'capital' in Syria begins

On March 6, SDF troops backed by global aircraft cut the main supply route between Raqa and the Deir Ezzor province to the east, according to the Observatory. The assault on Raqqa will pile more pressure on Daesh's self-declared "caliphate" with the group facing defeat in the Iraqi city of Mosul and being forced into retreat across much of Syria.

The attack on the northern city at the heart of ISIL's Syrian territory has been seven months in the making and is backed by air support, military advisers and weapons deliveries from the US-led coalition.

"We announce the good news of the start of the Great Battle which aims to liberate Raqqa city, and we declare that our forces are ready for the fight with high morale and great preparations", the SDF General Command stated in a press conference.

The U.S. -led coalition emphasized the SDF's "multi-ethnic" composition in its statement Tuesday.

Raqqa is now surrounded from the east, north and west, and opposition activists have reported intense shelling and air strikes on the city since Monday night, which killed at least 12 people.

The extremists are not expected to give up its hold on Raqqa easily.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces are steadily routing Islamic State from its last redoubt in the city of Mosul, the largest city the group had controlled in Iraq.

The SDF launched the Raqqa attack on Monday at dawn, the start of what Davis said "will be a very, very hard battle going forward".

"We all saw the heinous attack in Manchester, England", Townsend said in the statement. "ISIS threatens all our nations, not just Iraq and Syria, but in our homelands as well".

SDF commanders said the level of coalition support and arms supply would depend on the durability of the forces and difficulty of the battle.

ISIS terrorists ride tanks during a June 2014 parade in Raqqa, Syria.

No evidence about Russia's interference in US polls: Putin
The investment growth into Russian Federation exceeds GDP growth, this trend should be maintained, he said. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

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.

Last week, the United States announced it had begun providing weapons to members of the Kurdish militia that dominates the SDF, the Popular Protection Units (YPG). Two of the government's three routes to Deir el-Zour intersect with rebel and Kurdish forces supported by the U.S. In May, the U.S. struck a column of pro-government forces it judged were moving threateningly toward its local allies in the eastern Syrian desert. The alliance in April seized the strategically important Tabqa Dam, roughly 30 miles west of the Islamic State capital, providing a prime launching point for the push toward Raqqa.

The Observatory said the SDF had captured some buildings in the al-Mishlab area and Islamic State fighters had withdrawn from parts of the district.

A belt of land mines and militant checkpoints circle Raqqa.

Among them are as many as 200,000 civilians, who aid groups fear may be used as human shields, a tactic employed by the Islamic State in its strongholds across Syria and Iraq as coalition forces closed in.

SDF commanders said they are closely monitoring the fate of residents.

Earlier Tuesday, state news agency SANA reported that the airstrikes by the US-led coalition killed 12, including women and children. On Monday, the Observatory said a coalition bombing raid killed 21 civilians as they tried to escape Raqqa by dinghy on the Euphrates River. It said they were likely carried out by the US -led coalition. It follows months of advances to the north, east and west of Raqqa by the SDF, which includes Arabs and PYD terrorists. Coalition warplanes and artillery began strikes Monday afternoon, and continued through Tuesday afternoon. That suggests it does not intend to challenge the US -backed campaign at Raqqa city. "With the worldwide coalition's warplanes and the state-of-the-art weapons they provided to us, we will seize Raqqa from Daesh" The coalition air strikes on Raqqa have taken a toll on civilians.

The 19 boats hit on Tuesday carried fighters and equipment, he added.

"It will obviously be an operation that is going to be hard going forward and there will be a lot of painstaking efforts to try to avoid civilian casualties as they more in".

The coalition struck similarly described forces in the area last month.

Recommended News

  • Hundreds march in USA  demanding Trump investigation

    Hundreds march in USA demanding Trump investigation

    As 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reports, the topic weighed heavily on the minds of the people at New York City's march at Foley Square . The rallying in Washington on the National Mall is being held within blocks of a pro-Trump rally outside of the White House.

    US job market looks solid 8 years after recession ended

    Transportation and warehousing added 3,600 jobs, with warehousing and storage showing minimum change. The manufacturing sector lost 1,000 jobs in May, breaking a five-month streak of factory job growth.

    Apple's Siri Speaker is reportedly in the works

    Apple's Siri Speaker (an unofficial name) would have surround sound, integration with Apple devices, and no touch screen. Soon, a device embossed with "Designed by Apple in California" may be on your nightstand or kitchen counter as well.
  • Trump won't block Comey testimony, White House says

    Trump won't block Comey testimony, White House says

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday the decision by the White House counsel's office hasn't been made yet. Trump told NBC News he fired Comey in part because of the "Russia thing", which he called a "made-up story".
    Saina bows out, Praneeth advances to final in Thailand

    Saina bows out, Praneeth advances to final in Thailand

    By then, Saina had found her rhythm and her range as she started calling the shots to race to a 11-8 advantage. From there on, he did not let his Thai opponent make a recovery and won the game comfortably.
    Police dashcam footage shows Tiger Woods arrest in Florida

    Police dashcam footage shows Tiger Woods arrest in Florida

    Finally the machine registers his breath. "You can't get him on a sleeping pill", said Weinstein, now a defense lawyer in Miami . Woods was confused but cooperative when he was taken into custody, on suspicion of DUI, according to a probable cause affidavit.
  • Who will win the British general election?

    Who will win the British general election?

    If the poll is accurate and the swing were uniform across the country, the Tories would be 17 seats short of an overall majority. YouGov's election model was based on voting intention figures which gave May a lead of just 3 percentage points, YouGov said.
    Huddersfield have been celebrating their promotion to the Premier League

    Huddersfield have been celebrating their promotion to the Premier League

    Dean Hoyle, Huddersfield Town chairman, said: "When I took over in 2009, it has got harder and harder". It hurts right now, but we will come back stronger.
    ICC ODI Rankings: De Villiers at top, Kohli at 3rd spot

    ICC ODI Rankings: De Villiers at top, Kohli at 3rd spot

    Kagiso Rabada, South Africa's 22-year-old pace sensation, has leapfrogged team-mate Imran Tahir to become the No. 1 ODI bowler in the world.
  • Trump lashes out at leaks, considers staff upheaval

    But Kelly said such back-channel communications don't bother him and would not be harmful to US security interests. He added that it is "very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers".
    Sofia Coppola becomes second woman to win Cannes director prize

    Sofia Coppola becomes second woman to win Cannes director prize

    Swedish director Ruben Ostlund's The Square has won this year's Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday. Will Smith brought plenty of laughs to the Cannes Film Festival.
    Moscow storm death toll rises to 16

    Moscow storm death toll rises to 16

    Most of the fatalities were caused by falling threes and structures carried by the wind, including a metal fence and a bus stop. Alexei Khripun , head of the Moscow Health Department, said on Tuesday that more than 150 people had applied for medical help.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.