Forces make small advances in push toward Raqqa
BEIRUT >> Kurdish-led Syrian fighters pushed ahead Monday with an offensive aimed at isolating and encircling the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa, making small advances in villages north of the extremists’ de facto capital.
Warplanes from a U.S.-led coalition provided air cover for the fighters from the Syria Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters formed last year with the aim of incorporating non-Kurdish elements into the mainly Kurdish militia fighting IS in Syria.
The SDF announced the start of the campaign to liberate Raqqa at a news conference Sunday in northern Syria, and the United States, France and Britain said they would provide air support for the offensive, dubbed “Eurphrates Rage.”
But the battle for the Syrian city, home to nearly 200,000 mostly Sunni Arabs and an estimated 5,000 IS militants including many foreigners, could be long and costly.