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150 US-led airstrikes hit ISIS near Syria’s Raqqa

REUTERS/AFP | MAYA GEBEILY
Published : May 28, 2016, 6:15 am IST
Updated : May 28, 2016, 6:15 am IST

Warplanes from a US-led coalition have conducted at least 150 air strikes on the Islamic State group to bolster a major offensive on the jihadists’ Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a monitor said on Friday

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Warplanes from a US-led coalition have conducted at least 150 air strikes on the Islamic State group to bolster a major offensive on the jihadists’ Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a monitor said on Friday.

The US is backing twin assaults on ISIS — one for Raqqa province, and one for the Iraqi city of Fallujah across the border.

A Kurdish-Arab alliance is being supported by coalition raids as well as US forces on the ground in its push for territory north of Raqqa city — ISIS’s bolthole in Syria.

Turkey on Friday said it was “unacceptable” that US troops had been seen near Raqqa wearing insignia of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which makes up the bulk of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and which Ankara regards as a terror group.

The coalition has been providing air support to the SDF to the tune of 150 strikes on ISIS positions since the assault began on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“There has been a serious intensification of air strikes, but they were most intense on the first day of the operation,” said observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Meanwhile in Turkey, ISIS fighters captured territory from Syrian rebels near the Turkish border on Friday and inched closer to a town on a supply route for foreign-backed insurgents fighting the jihadists, a monitoring group said.

The ultra-hardline group has been fighting against rebels inthe area for several months.

The rebels, who are supplied via Turkey, last month staged a major push against ISIS, but the group counter-attacked and beat them back.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday's advance was the biggest by ISIS in Aleppo province fortwo years. It brought the jihadists to within 5 km of Azaz, a town near the border with Turkey through which insurgents have been supplied.

The Islamic State said in an online statement it had capturedseveral villages near Azaz.

Location: Lebanon, Beirut