Kurds launch campaign north of IS-held Raqqa
A US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has begun a campaign to expel Islamic State (IS) militants from land north of Raqqa.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is believed to have deployed about 30,000 fighters.
US-led coalition warplanes will support the offensive and Russia has also given its backing.
The SDF did not mention any plan to take Raqqa, the de facto capital of the “caliphate” proclaimed by IS in 2014.
The alliance, which is dominated by the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia, has emerged as a key ally of the US-led coalition over the past two years, leading the fight against IS on the ground in northern Syria.
With the help of US airpower, it has taken control of about 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq miles) of territory, including a 400km (250 mile) stretch along the Turkish border.
On Tuesday, SDF fighters were seen moving south from Tal Abyad near the Turkish border towards Ain Issa, a town about 60km (37 miles) north-west of Raqqa, according to UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Clashes were reported nearby, it added.
SDF commander Rojda Felat wrote on Twitter that the goal of the new offensive was to “liberate northern Raqqa” and those living under IS “oppression”.
fallujah being hit in iraq..and now raqqa in syria..kurds working with the usa..they know they will be given the top third of iraq eventually..
“The alliance, which is dominated by the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia, has emerged as a key ally of the US-led coalition over the past two years, leading the fight against IS on the ground in northern Syria.”