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trump celebrates is defeat in raqqa


sterling, va. — president donald trump says the end of the islamic state "is in sight" after the militant group was driven out of raqqa, its self-declared capital in syria.trump says in a statement that the recapture of raqqa by the syrian democratic forces is "a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat isis."he says it'll soon be time to transition to a new phase in which the u.s. will continue to support local security forces and "advance the conditions for a lasting peace."trump says the u.s. will back diplomatic negotiations that end the violence in syria, allow refugees to return safely home and "yield a political transition that honors the will of the syrian people."there are no signs, however, that political transition will occur any time soon.






isil faces imminent raqqa defeat, syria's ypg says | syria news


isil is on the verge of defeat in syria's raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the group's fighters on saturday or sunday, the syrian kurdish ypg militia said."the battles are continuing in raqqa city. daesh (islamic state of iraq and the levant) is on the verge of being finished. today or tomorrow the city may be liberated," ypg spokesman nouri mahmoud told reuters news agency by telephone.the ypg dominates the us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf), an alliance of arab and kurdish militias that has been battling since june to defeat isil at raqqa, which served as the group's de facto capital in syria.al jazeera's hashem ahelbarra, reporting from antakya in turkey, said only about seven percent of the city was still under control of isil on saturday."thousands of people have bee






isil faces imminent raqqa defeat, syria's ypg says | syria news


isil is on the verge of defeat in syria's raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the group's fighters on saturday or sunday, the syrian kurdish ypg militia said."the battles are continuing in raqqa city. daesh (islamic state of iraq and the levant) is on the verge of being finished. today or tomorrow the city may be liberated," ypg spokesman nouri mahmoud told reuters news agency by telephone.the ypg dominates the us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf), an alliance of arab and kurdish militias that has been battling since june to defeat isil at raqqa, which served as the group's de facto capital in syria.al jazeera's hashem ahelbarra, reporting from antakya in turkey, said only about seven percent of the city was still under control of isil on saturday."thousands of people have bee






the battle for raqqa: who controls what | isis


the syrian democratic forces (sdf), the united states' closest ally in syria, has begun the final push for raqqa, one of the last and most important strongholds of the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis). most routes to the city have been captured by the us-backed forces, and isil is losing ground day after day. read more: the battle for raqqa explained the sdf has been working to encircle raqqa since november in an offensive backed by the us-led coalition that is also fighting isil in iraq, where the group is on the brink of defeat in the city of mosul. the us-led coalition has said 3,000 to 4,000 isil fighters are thought to be holed up in raqqa city, where they have erected defences against the anticipated assault. for months now, isil has been preparing for






the battle for raqqa: who controls what | isis


the syrian democratic forces (sdf), the united states' closest ally in syria, has begun the final push for raqqa, one of the last and most important strongholds of the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis). most routes to the city have been captured by the us-backed forces, and isil is losing ground day after day. read more: the battle for raqqa explained the sdf has been working to encircle raqqa since november in an offensive backed by the us-led coalition that is also fighting isil in iraq, where the group is on the brink of defeat in the city of mosul. the us-led coalition has said 3,000 to 4,000 isil fighters are thought to be holed up in raqqa city, where they have erected defences against the anticipated assault. for months now, isil has been preparing for






us-backed syrian fighters advancing toward is-held raqqa


beirut — u.s.-backed syrian forces say they are close to capturing an islamic state-held town that lies halfway between the former is-stronghold of tabqa and its de facto capital, raqqa, in northern syria.the kurdish-led syrian democratic forces say they are in control of 90 percent of the town of mansoura, approximately 26 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of raqqa.the britain-based syrian observatory for human rights says the sdf has been engaged in fierce fighting with is militants along the southern bank of the euphrates river, around mansoura. the river leads to raqqa.the u.s. has backed the sdf with weapons, airpower, and ground support in its campaign to defeat the islamic state group in syria. its target for now is raqqa, which has been held by the militants since 2014.






two americans, one british die in isis ambush in raqqa


the kurdish people’s protection units (ypg) announced tuesday the deaths of three foreign volunteers, two from the u.s. and one from the u.k., amid the u.s.-backed force’s campaign to defeat the islamic state militant group (isis) in its de facto capital of raqqa, syria. the ypg’s press office said that 28-year-old robert grodt of california and…






us-backed syrian fighters advancing toward is-held raqqa


beirut (ap) — u.s.-backed syrian forces say they are close to capturing an islamic state-held town that lies halfway between the former is-stronghold of tabqa and its de facto capital, raqqa, in northern syria.the kurdish-led syrian democratic forces say they are in control of 90 percent of the town of mansoura, approximately 26 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of raqqa.the britain-based syrian observatory for human rights says the sdf has been engaged in fierce fighting with is militants along the southern bank of the euphrates river, around mansoura. the river leads to raqqa.the u.s. has backed the sdf with weapons, airpower, and ground support in its campaign to defeat the islamic state group in syria. its target for now is raqqa, which has been held by the militants since 2014.most read






evacuation ends as isil defeat in syria's raqqa nears | syria news


a group of isil fighters has evacuated the syrian city of raqqa overnight, taking civilians with them as human shields, a militia spokesperson said, as the battle continued with fighters who stayed behind.the us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf), an alliance of kurdish and arab militias, said foreign fighters were not included under the withdrawal deal.however, a member of the raqqa civil council said that some isil foreigners did manage the leave with the syrian isil group as they left their self-proclaimed capital in the country's north.the isil fighters took about 400 civilians with them as human shields, according to the sdf.omar alloush, a member of the raqqa civil council, would not say how many fighters remained in the city, where the syrian democratic forces have hemmed them in






us-backed syrian fighters clearing war remnants in raqqa


beirut — u.s.-backed forces fighting islamic state militants in syria were removing land mines and clearing main roads in raqqa on wednesday, a day after their commanders declared the city was under their control, a spokesman said.mustafa bali, spokesman for the kurdish-led syrian democratic forces, said preparations were also underway for a formal declaration of the liberation of raqqa.sdf announced on tuesday that military operations in raqqa have ended and that their troops have taken full control of the city, once the heart of is' self-styled caliphate. the u.s.-led coalition cautioned that the clearing operations were not finished and that it estimated about 100 militants may still be hiding in the city.on wednesday, the spokesman for the u.s. coalition, col. ryan dillon, tweeted that






rivals in syria race to assault militants' 'capital' raqqa


beirut — after the battlefield of iraq's mosul, the next major campaign against the islamic state group will be to take its de facto capital, the syrian city of raqqa. the pentagon has drawn up a secret plan to do that, likely leaning on local allies with stepped up american support.the question is: in the tangled mess that is syria's conflict, who are those local allies?syrian government forces, turkish troops and their syrian militia allies, and u.s.-backed kurdish forces all have their eye on raqqa. each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the united states support the others. and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own."raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one i






rival groups race for control of syria’s raqqa


beirut (ap) — a major battle to liberate the islamic state group’s stronghold of raqqa in northern syria is looming, with u.s. officials looking to build on momentum from victories on the battlefields of mosul in iraq. the pentagon has drawn up a secret plan to do that, likely leaning on local allies with stepped-up american support.the question is: who are those local allies in the tangled mess that is syria’s conflict?syrian government forces, turkish troops and their syrian militia allies, and u.s.-backed kurdish forces all have their eye on raqqa. each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the united states support the others. and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.“raqqa is more of an abstract






rival groups race for control of syria's raqqa


beirut — a major battle to liberate the islamic state group's stronghold of raqqa in northern syria is looming, with u.s. officials looking to build on momentum from victories on the battlefields of mosul in iraq. the pentagon has drawn up a secret plan to do that, likely leaning on local allies with stepped-up american support.the question is: who are those local allies in the tangled mess that is syria's conflict?syrian government forces, turkish troops and their syrian militia allies, and u.s.-backed kurdish forces all have their eye on raqqa. each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the united states support the others. and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own."raqqa is more of an abstract goal:






sdf: final push on isil's raqqa 'likely next month' | syria news


the syrian democratic forces (sdf), a us-backed group, says it will soon begin a final attack to capture raqqa, isil's self-proclaimed capital in northern syria, just days after seizing a key town to the west and an adjacent dam.the announcement on friday followed us president donald trump's decision on monday to approve direct arms shipments to the sdf's kurdish elements - the kurdish people's protection units (ypg) - to "ensure a clear victory" over isil.donald trump to arm kurdish fighters in syriasdf commander abdul qader hevdeli said on friday the push to raqqa "will be in the coming period of time."i can't specify exactly; i believe entering and storming the city will happen at the start of the summer," he said in a news conference in tabqa city, which the sdf took from isil on wedne






u.s.-backed syrian fighters clear raqqa after driving out islamic state


sarah el deeb and zeina karam u.s.-backed syrian forces celebrated in the devastated streets of raqqa on tuesday after gaining control of the northern city that once was the heart of the islamic state's self-styled caliphate, dealing a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory shrink ever smaller since... u.s.-backed syrian forces celebrated in the devastated streets of raqqa on tuesday after gaining control of the northern city that once was the heart of the islamic state's self-styled caliphate, dealing a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory shrink ever smaller since... (sarah el deeb and zeina karam)






syrian kurdish commander says raqqa freed of islamic state militants


u.s.-backed syrian forces liberated the city of raqqa on tuesday from islamic state militants, a senior commander said, in a major defeat for the collapsing extremist group that had proclaimed it to be the capital of its "caliphate."although clashes in raqqa have ended, the kurdish-led syrian democratic forces are in control, combing the city in northern syria for land mines and searching for any is sleeper cells, brig. gen. talal sillo told the associated press.sillo said a formal declaration that raqqa has fallen would be made soon, once troops finish their clearing operations in the city on the banks of the euphrates river.col. ryan dillon, a spokesman for the u.s.-led coalition, said it has not yet received official reports that the city was cleared, describing mines and booby traps th






us-backed syrian forces set sights on valley north of raqqa


beirut — u.s.-backed syrian kurdish forces say they have entered the fourth stage of their campaign to capture the islamic state group's de facto capital raqqa with an advance on the militants in a valley north of the city.the syrian democratic forces, which include arab fighters, say they are working to clear the militants out of the jalab valley, north of raqqa. an estimated 300,000 people are in the city.the sdf says it wants to isolate raqqa before attacking it. their closest position is within 8 kilometers (5 miles) northeast of the city. but the countryside south of raqqa is still under is control.it is unclear how many stages are planned for the sdf campaign.






kurdish-led fighters launch offensive toward syria's raqqa


beirut — u.s.-backed kurdish-led fighters in northern syria have launched a new offensive that aims to capture towns and villages east of the islamic state -held northern city of raqqa.the new offensive by the syria democratic forces was announced urday in a statement read by spokeswoman cihan sheikh ehmed. she said it is the third phase of the raqqa operation, which began last november.the aim of the operation is to isolate raqqa from the rest of is-held territories before storming the city itself. the announcement e a day after aircraft from the u.s.-led coalition destroyed two bridges on the southern edge of raqqa, the de facto capital of is' self-declared caliphate.






syrian city of raqqa liberated from islamic state: reports


raqqa was formerly the the extremist group’s de facto capital.        






syria's ypg says push for raqqa to start in days | syria news


a us-backed operation by syrian forces to capture raqqa, isil's self-declared capital in syria, will start in the next "few days", the spokesman for the syrian kurdish ypg militia said on saturday.the syrian democratic forces (sdf), an alliance of fighters led by the ypg and backed by the us-led coalition, has been encircling raqqa since november in a multi-phased campaign to drive the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis) from the city.the assault on raqqa will pile even more pressure on isil, with the hardline group facing defeat in the iraqi city of mosul and being forced into retreat across much of syria, where the province of deir az zor is its last major foothold. "the forces reached the outskirts of the city, and the major operation will start ... in the co






about 4,000 civilians remain in is-held syrian city of raqqa


beirut — a spokesman for the u.s.-led coalition battling the islamic state group says an estimated 4,000 civilians are still trapped in the syrian city of raqqa, once the extremists' de facto capital, and that coalition allies are working out ways to evacuate them.col. ryan dillon says the raqqa civil council, a local administration of arab and kurdish officials, is leading the discussions. it's not clear with whom the council is speaking inside raqqa.dillon said on wednesday that the coalition wouldn't accept a negotiated surrender of up to 400 militants believed holed up in the last part of the city that remains in is hands.dillon says up to 15 militants have surrendered in the past three weeks in raqqa. the battle for the city is in its final stages.






trump authorizes pentagon to arm kurds to fight isis, over turkish objections


president trump on monday authorized the department of defense to equip kurdish elements of the syrian democratic forces to defeat the islamic state of iraq and syria (isis) in its default capital of raqqa, syria, despite objections from turkey. u.s. officials acknowledge the move will unsettle nato ally turkey, which views some kurdish groups as terrorists. the announcement comes after secretary of state rex tillerson met with turkish officials last week in ankara, turkey, and discussed possible strategies for defeating isis in syria. "the sdf, partnered with enabling support from u.s. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize raqqa in the near future," chief pentagon spokesperson dana w. white said in a statement.  "we are keenly aware of the secu






isis facing imminent collapse in syria's raqqa


the u.s. coalition said about 85% of raqqa was now controlled by the syrian defense forces.        






syria's ypg says push for raqqa to start in days | syria news


a us-backed operation by syrian forces to capture raqqa, isil's self-declared capital in syira, will start in the next "few days", the spokesman for the syrian kurdish ypg militia said on saturday.the syrian democratic forces (sdf), an alliance of fighters led by the ypg and backed by the us-led coalition, has been encircling raqqa since november in a multi-phased campaign to drive the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis) from the city.syria: sdf makes gains in raqqathe assault on raqqa will pile even more pressure on isil, with the hardline group facing defeat in the iraqi city of mosul and being forced into retreat across much of syria, where the province of deir ez-zor is its last major foothold. "the forces reached the outskirts of the city, and the major ope






trump authorizes pentagon to arm kurds to fight isis, over turkish objections


president donald trump on monday authorized the department of defense to equip kurdish elements of the syrian democratic forces to defeat isis in its default capital of raqqa, syria, despite objections from turkey.u.s. officials acknowledge the move will unsettle nato ally turkey, which views some kurdish groups as terrorists. the announcement comes after secretary of state rex tillerson met with turkish officials last week in ankara, turkey, and discussed possible strategies for defeating isis in syria. "the sdf, partnered with enabling support from u.s. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize raqqa in the near future," chief pentagon spokesperson dana w. white said in a statement. "we are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition pa






french defense chief: battle for syria's raqqa within days


paris — france's defense minister says the battle by international forces to take back the islamic state group's de facto capital of raqqa in syria will start in the coming days.defense minister jean-yves le drian said raqqa is a "major objective" for the u.s.-led coalition trying to quash is extremists in syria and iraq.le drian spoke on cnews television on friday.he says: "today we can say that raqqa is encircled and that the battle will begin in the coming days. it will be a very hard battle but it will be an essential battle."as the coalition advances in its battle to retake the is stronghold of mosul in iraq, the u.s. has been intensifying involvement in syria's conflict ahead of the battle for raqqa.






sdf launch major offensive to capture isil-held raqqa | syria news


the us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf) have begun a battle to capture raqqa, isil's de facto capital in syria, launching attacks from the east, west and north of the city.in a phone interview with reuters news agency from syria on tuesday, sdf spokesman talal silo said the operation started on monday and the fighting would be "fierce because isil will die to defend their so-called capital".the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis) group captured the city from rebel groups in 2014 and has since used it as their home base."the coalition has a big role in the success of the operations. in addition to warplanes, there are coalition forces working side by side with the syrian democratic forces," silo said.the uk-based syrian observatory for human rights said the






us-backed syrian forces clear raqqa after driving out is


beirut — u.s.-backed syrian forces were removing land mines and clearing roads in the northern city of raqqa on wednesday, a day after commanders said they had driven the islamic state group from its de facto capital.mustafa bali, spokesman for the kurdish-led syrian democratic forces, said preparations were underway for a formal declaration of the city's liberation.the sdf said tuesday that military operations in raqqa have ended and that their troops have taken full control of the city. the u.s.-led coalition cautioned that the clearing operations would continue, saying some 100 militants may still be hiding in the city.on wednesday, the spokesman for the coalition, col. ryan dillon, tweeted that 95 percent of the city is now under full control as clearing operations continue.the coaliti






evacuation deal as isil defeat in syria's raqqa nears | syria news


syrian isil fighters are set to evacuate their former stronghold of raqqa in a withdrawal negotiated by local officials and tribesmen, as us-backed forces near the capture of the city.officials on saturday gave conflicting accounts on whether the group's foreign fighters would also be leaving the city, where the us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf) have been battling to defeat the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis) group since june.talal silo, spokesman for the sdf, an alliance of kurdish and arab fighters, said isil's foreign fighters would be left behind "to surrender or die", without saying when the evacuation of syrian fighters would take place.a us-led coalition battling isil in syria and iraq specifically ruled out the exit of foreign fighters, while






is conflict: air strike 'kills dozens in village near raqqa'


image copyrightreutersimage caption thousands of civilians have been displaced by the battle to oust is from raqqa at least 33 people have been killed in an air strike on a school in a village west of the islamic state-held syrian city of raqqa, a monitoring group says.the syrian observatory for human rights said the building in al-mansoura was being used as a shelter for displaced people when it was hit on monday night.the activist group raqqa is being slaughtered silently said the fate of 50 families who were there was unknown.both groups believe the raid was carried out by us-led coalition jets.there was no immediate comment from the coalition, but it has said there were 19 strikes near raqqa on monday, including three that destroyed is "headquarters".the coalition is supporting an offe






evacuation deal as isil defeat in syria's raqqa nears | syria news


syrian isil fighters are set to evacuate their former stronghold of raqqa in a withdrawal negotiated by local officials and tribesmen, as us-backed forces near the capture of the city.officials on saturday gave conflicting accounts on whether the group's foreign fighters would also be leaving the city, where the us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf) have been battling to defeat islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis) since june.talal silo, spokesman for the sdf, an alliance of kurdish and arab fighters, said isil's foreign fighters would be left behind "to surrender or die", without saying when the evacuation of syrian fighters would take place.a us-led coalition battling isil in syrian and iraq specifically ruled out the exit of foreign fighters, while making no






syria's sdf rebels capture parts of isil-held raqqa | syria news


us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf) have captured several strategic neighbourhoods just outside of isil's de facto capital in raqqa province, the group said in a press release.the sdf made gains outside raqqa city, where islamic state of iraq and the levant's (isil) fighters are currently surrounded by the kurdish forces.sdf said they captured al-romaniya neighbourhood west of raqqa city early on monday.us-backed sdf forces launch offensive to drive isil from raqqaal-romaniya is the third neighbourhood of raqqa city to be captured by the sdf since the launch of the fifth phase of the raqqa offensive last week.the sdf, a group of kurdish and arab fighters, are currently battling isil for control of sinaaya and hetin neighbourhoods east and west of raqqa city, the press release said.isi






syria's sdf rebels capture parts of isil-held raqqa | syria news


us-backed syrian democratic forces (sdf) have captured several strategic neighbourhoods just outside of isil's de facto capital in raqqa province, the group said in a press release.the sdf made gains outside raqqa city, where islamic state of iraq and the levant's (isil) fighters are currently surrounded by the kurdish forces. sdf said they captured al-romaniya neighbourhood west of raqqa city early on monday.us-backed sdf forces launch offensive to drive isil from raqqaal-romaniya is the third neighbourhood of raqqa city to be captured by the sdf since the launch of the fifth phase of the raqqa offensive last week.the sdf, a group of kurdish and arab fighters, are currently battling isil for control of sinaaya and hetin neighbourhoods east and west of raqqa city, the press release said.is






inside raqqa after is was pushed out


the bbc's feras kilani was with syrian democratic forces as they took control of the centre of raqqa, syria.the city has been the stronghold of so-called islamic state since 2014.






kurdish-led fighters launch offensive toward syria’s raqqa


beirut (ap) — u.s.-backed kurdish-led fighters in northern syria have launched a new offensive that aims to capture towns and villages east of the islamic state -held northern city of raqqa.the new offensive by the syria democratic forces was announced urday in a statement read by spokeswoman cihan sheikh ehmed. she said it is the third phase of the raqqa operation, which began last november.the aim of the operation is to isolate raqqa from the rest of is-held territories before storming the city itself. the announcement e a day after aircraft from the u.s.-led coalition destroyed two bridges on the southern edge of raqqa, the de facto capital of is’ self-declared caliphate.






in syria, more airstrikes hit is de facto capital of raqqa


beirut — syrian opposition activists say more airstrikes and artillery shelling have hit the northern city of raqqa, the de facto capital of the islamic state group.the britain-based syrian observatory for human rights says the city was pounded by warplanes and artillery early in the morning on monday. the activist group had no immediate word on casualties.it said the bombardment comes as kurdish-led syrian democratic forces captured new areas west of raqqa.the activist-operated raqqa is being slaughtered silently says that since sunday, the u.s.-led coalition has carried out more than 30 airstrikes on the city, killing 35 people and destroying a school on raqqa's northern outskirts.airstrikes have intensified over the past days as u.s.-backed fighters have marched toward the city, getting






police looking for clues in death of nkorea leader's brother


kuala lumpur, malaysia — police were checking surveillance tapes wednesday for clues about who may have assassinated the half-brother of north korean leader kim jong un at an airport in kuala lumpur, a senior official said.an autopsy will also be performed on the body of kim jong nam, police said. kim, 46, was targeted monday in the shopping concourse at the airport and had not gone through immigration yet for his flight to macau, said a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case involves sensitive diplomacy.he was taken to the airport clinic and then died on the way to the hospital, the official said.kim, who died on the way to a hospital, told medical workers before he died that he had been attacked with a chemical spray, the official said.selangor p