FILE PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters hold up their weapons in the north of Raqqa city, Syria February 3, 2017. Picture taken February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo
Reuters: U.S.-backed force launches assault on Islamic State's 'capital' in Syria
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Tuesday it had launched a battle to capture Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital, piling pressure on the jihadists whose self-declared caliphate is in retreat across Syria and Iraq.
SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters the operation started on Monday and the fighting would be "fierce because Daesh (Islamic State) will die to defend their so-called capital".
The assault overlaps with the final stages of the U.S.-backed attack to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State. It follows months of advances to the north, east and west of Raqqa by the SDF, which includes Arab and Kurdish militias.
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