Backed forces battling for ISIS-held air base in Syria

Backed forces battling for ISIS-held air base in Syria

Scrocca was speaking as fighters began a major ground offensive, backed up by U.S. forces, to retake the vital dam from ISIS.

As a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters launched a ground offensive on the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in the Syrian city of Raqqa this week, backed by USA -led forces, the group is projecting an image of calm, according to monitors.

The reports from Raqqa came as a leading Syrian opposition group called on the USA -led coalition to stop targeting residential areas in and around the city.

Meanwhile, Daesh militant commander and three of his close aides have been killed during intense clashes with US-backed fighters from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a Kurdish-dominated and anti-Damascus alliance - near Tabqa Dam.

Russian Federation and Iran back the government of President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey and the USA -led coalition support rebels fighting the government.

As for Mosul, Le Drian said the city would be completely liberated "in the coming weeks".

"To that end, the Coalition continues to prosecute a military campaign against legitimate military targets in support of our partners in Iraq and Syria".

Although several groups blamed coalition air strikes the coalition claimed it had no information that it had struck civilians near Raqqa but said the reports would be investigated.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had also learned from its own sources that the dam had stopped functioning but that Islamic State remained in control of its main operational buildings and turbines.




The US military has provided air and artillery support involving Apache helicopter gunships to help the SDF in the battle for the dam and the surrounding area, as well as airlifting in fighters.

Mohammed Khedhr, of Sound and Picture Organisation, which documents IS violations, confirmed that battles are taking place inside Karama, about 10 miles east of Raqqa.

De Mistura was set to meet with the main opposition delegation later Friday.

The push toward Raqqa came just a couple of days after US forces were airdropped on Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria near Raqqa to aid the SDF in their push toward the city.

France's defense minister says the battle by global forces to take back the Islamic State group's de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria will start in the coming days.

ISIS has been pounded in Syria in recent months with attacks against the extremists from three fronts, the US -backed fighters, Turkish troops and their allies near the border with Turkey, and government forces in the northern province of Aleppo.

Le Drian spoke on CNEWS television on Friday.

"This will be a very hard battle, but essential", he told French TV.

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