BEIRUT A Kurdish and Arab Syrian militia backed by the United States has captured the city of Karama as it prepares for an assault on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa that it expects to take place in early April, it claimed on Sunday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has trapped Raqqa in a shrinking pocket of territory on the northern financial institution of the Euphrates and has innovative toward it in a multi-pronged offensive above a number of months.
Dejwar Khabat, a area commander with the SDF, claimed he expects the assault on Raqqa to commence in early April, affirming a timeline claimed by Reuters previously this thirty day period, right after the U.S.-backed militia closes the gap on the town on a lot more fronts.
He was answering Reuters issues in a press meeting with nearby reporters in Karama, the final important city to the east of Raqqa, which lies about 18km (11 miles) away along the Euphrates. A different thrust of the SDF advance has already achieved a handful of kilometers from Raqqa in the northeast.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Legal rights, a Britain-primarily based war observe, claimed the SDF experienced almost totally captured Karama but that clashes concerning it and Islamic State were nonetheless heading on.
To the west of Raqqa, the SDF is aiming to seize the city of Tabqa on the south financial institution of the Euphrates, along with a nearby dam and airbase right after US helicopters aided the militia’s fighters set up a bridgehead across the river final week.
Khabat claimed the SDF has besieged the airbase, but the Observatory claimed it was nonetheless a number of kilometers away. It was captured by Islamic State at the top of the group’s expansion in August 2014 and the jihadists then killed at minimum 160 captive soldiers, the Observatory has claimed.
Islamic State has retreated with growing speed above new months in the facial area of three rival army campaigns against it in Syria. The SDF, backed by a US-led coalition, has pushed Islamic State from the north and northeast.
Syrian rebels combating underneath the flag of the Free of charge Syrian Army and backed by Turkey have taken a swathe of territory in the north along the Turkish frontier. And the Syrian military and its allies Russia, Iran and Shi’ite militias, are advancing east of Aleppo and east of Palmyra.
The Syrian military advance east of Aleppo has achieved the Euphrates about 55km northwest of Tabqa, but Khabat claimed he did not believe it experienced ample forces to enter the struggle for the city.
He included that the SDF would not let any other army force to enter Raqqa.
(Reporting By Rodi Said and Angus McDowall Editing by Andrew Bolton)