Led Coalition Explained Why It Used White Phosphorus in Syria's Raqqa

Led Coalition Explained Why It Used White Phosphorus in Syria's Raqqa

"The SDF captured the western half of the Al-Sabahiya neighbourhood and are reinforcing their positions there", Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The SDF stormed Mashlab, after their offensive to capture the city form IS started on Tuesday.

The US-led coalition has been heavily bombing Al-Raqqa for several days, killing at least 22 people according to the National Observatory for Human Rights in Syria (Ondus).

Townsend also predicted "a lot of hard fighting ahead" even if the Islamic State is driven from the two cities, the militants last major urban strongholds.

"We are accompanying SDF units moving in Raqa", he said, but "the SDF have the lead in the fight".

An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under IS rule in Raqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.

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The International Rescue Committee said it was "deeply concerned for the safety of civilians in Raqa" after a drop in numbers fleeing the city in the past week.

He said that Syrian government troops had secured territorial gains in the southern Suwayda province near the Jordanian border, but encountered resistance from the US -led coalition.

The "unprecedented" airstrikes targeted the neighborhoods of Mashlab, Haret al-Bado, and Rmaileh, said the report, adding that the number of civilian casualties has not yet been clear but it estimated the deaths at tens.

Meanwhile white phosphorus attacks on Raqqa were reported for second night on Friday.

Along with Mosul in Iraq, Raqa was one of the twin pivots of the self-styled Islamic "caliphate" that Daesh declared almost three years ago.

Iraqi forces backed by the coalition are battling IS in Mosul too.

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The coalition began striking Daesh militants in Iraq in August 2014 and expanded its operations to Syria the following month.

Surovikin also noted that the USA was clearly attempting to hamper forces of the Syrian Arab Republic who are undertaking efforts to secure the country's southern border, citing the "absurd assertions" and of Washington, who "vaguely explains" that government forces pose a threat to US -led forces.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said Syrian regime ally Russian Federation helped prevent an escalation in hostilities between the coalition and the pro-regime forces.

The coalition said the contingent was "well advanced" into the 34-mile (55 kilometer) de-confliction zone, where any intrusion is considered hostile.

"As long as pro-regime forces are oriented toward Coalition and partnered forces the potential for conflict is escalated", CENTCOM said in a statement to The Associated Press.

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