US-backed Syrian forces begin Raqqa offensive
US-backed rebels said on Sunday they were launching an operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS.
The attack ratchets up pressure on the militant group at a critical moment, with its fighters already battling an offensive by Iraqi security forces on their remaining Iraqi stronghold in the northern city of Mosul.
The US-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab armed groups, first announced on Sunday that a campaign to retake Raqqa would begin within hours, with US forces providing air cover. Soon afterwards, it said that the operation, called Euphrates Anger, had begun.
“The general command of the Syria Democratic Forces announces the blessed start of its major military campaign to liberate the city of Raqqa,” Jehan Sheikh Amad, an SDF spokeswoman, told a news conference in the Syrian town of Ain Issa.
The SDF called on Raqqa’s civilians to avoid areas where ISIS militants are present and to go to “liberated territory.”
No details were given about the meeting between Hulusi Akar and Joseph Dunford, but it comes as US-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had launched an operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS.