U.S.-backed forces besiege IS militants in Raqqa


DAMASCUS, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Wednesday that its fighters are besieging the Islamic State (IS) militants inside the city of Raqqa in northeastern Syria.

In a short statement on its official Twitter account, the SDF, an alliance of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian fighters led by the Kurdish YPG group, said IS militants are besieged in the "last few areas they are still holding in Raqqa."

It added that the Syrian militants of IS are surrendering themselves, while the foreigners are withdrawing toward the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

Recently, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said the SDF had become in control of 55 percent of Raqqa city, following a two-month offensive.

The U.S.-led aircraft are also heavily backing the SDF in their push to strip IS of their main stronghold in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army and allied tribal forces have been making progress in the countryside of Raqqa, capturing the western and southern countryside of that city.

The army is also close to capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa, reaching the city of Ma'dan, the last IS-held city in the eastern Raqqa countryside.

The progress will enable the Syrian army to reach the western administrative borders of the oil-rich province of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria.

The Syrian army is also advancing in the desert in central Syria, particularly after capturing the Sukhneh city in the eastern countryside of Homs, which is also adjacent to the administrative borders of Deir al-Zour.

The wide-scale military offensive in the Syrian desert and the countryside of Raqqa is to break the IS siege and end its presence in Deir al-Zour.

These battles aim to eliminate the IS in the key cities in Syria, as part of a Russian-U.S. understanding, which allows the Kurdish-led SDF to capture Raqqa city, and the Syrian army to claw back Deir al-Zour.



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