CAIRO – A Kurdish-Arab militia backed by the United States announced on Thursday the launch of the fourth phase in a military offensive aimed at liberating a northeastern Syrian province from the Islamic State terror organization.
The general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that this fourth phase would focus on the countryside in the north of al-Raqqa province – located some 450 kilometers (280 miles) to the northeast of Damascus – as well as the nearby valley of Jalab.
The statement added that the US-led international coalition was to provide the SDF with air coverage.
The target of this phase is to continue efforts to impose a siege on the city of al-Raqqa, held by the IS since 2013.
The IS established al-Raqqa as its de facto capital when it founded its self-proclaimed “Caliphate” in June 2014.
The SDF urged the region’s residents to stay away from IS positions.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – a United Kingdom-based war monitor – said on Thursday that at least 12 IS militants and two SDF fighters were killed in clashes in the al-Qadisiyah neighborhood, east of al-Raqqa.
On Nov. 6, the SDF began the ongoing offensive to drive the IS out of their stronghold in al-Raqqa.