Backed forces seize new district from IS in Raqqa

Backed forces seize new district from IS in Raqqa

Backed forces seize new district from IS in Raqqa

Syrian Kurdish forces say they have seized a new district from Islamic State (IS) in its self-declared capital Raqqa.

"We'll do what we can", Mattis told reporters during his flight to Germany, when asked about weapons recovery. "When they don't need certain things anymore, we'll replace those with something they do need", Mattis said.

The U.S. -backed coalition has supported SDF advances against the jihadist group throughout the Raqqa campaign with artillery and air strikes, including some against Islamic State leaders. Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have also taken territory from it and the Syrian army has this year advanced rapidly against it in desert areas.

To avoid the seemingly inevitable collision between USA -backed fighters and pro-Syrian government forces, including their respective air support, Mattis indicated that the Euphrates River Valley, would be carved up into "deconfliction" areas. So far this morning, we have been bombed three times.

"The deconfliction lines, through all of these contentious months that we've been through, have never gone down", Mattis added.

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It said on Saturday that coalition airstrikes in and around Raqqa had killed nearly 700 civilians so far this year.

"We just refuse to get drawn into the Syrian Civil War", Mattis said. This serves ISIS' political objectives by fueling narratives about Western militaries, much like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and its Russian backers, deliberately targeting Sunni Muslim civilians.

In April, President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike in response to what Washington claimed was a gas attack carried out by Assad's forces that killed almost 90 people.

"In the first two weeks [of the campaign], there was significant progress - very quick progress that was made", he said. The series of air attacks, taken in self-defense by US forces, according to the Pentagon, occurred as pro-Assad forces threatened or approached USA -backed Syrian fighters.

Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, has been operating from Raqqa for the past three years, but is now losing ground as the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces close in on the group.

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Turkey considers it an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). It has said supplies to the YPG have in the past ended up in PKK hands, describing any weapons given to the force as a threat to its security.

Asked if Kurdish militia would revert to their pre-Raqqa level of armaments once the fight was over, Mattis responded: "Well, we'll see".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which views the YPG as a threat, has said Mattis assured it in a letter that the United States would eventually take back the weapons it was giving them once Islamic State was defeated.

ISIS is also using drones in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, but the Iraqi military, with more resources than their SDF counterparts in Syria, is doing the same to the militants, dropping munitions on their positions using unmanned aircraft.

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