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US-backed forces launch bid to take Raqqa from ISIS

Posted June 6

US-backed forces in Syria have launched an offensive to seize the city of Raqqa after more than three years of ISIS rule.

Raqqa is ISIS' de facto capital and the bid to retake the city marks the most significant offensive in the international fight against the extremist group to date.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been circling in on Raqqa since November last year, and on Tuesday announced they would begin a new push.

"After we have completed the stages of encircling of Raqqa from three sides -- north, east and west -- today we are facing a historic moment that the whole world and all peace-loving people have waited for, which is to declare the beginning of (the) campaign to liberate the city of Raqqa and destroy the so-called capital of ISIS "

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq confirmed the start of the offensive and added that the SDF's allied Syrian Arab Coalition would also take part.

"The fight for Raqqa will be long and difficult, but the offensive would deliver a decisive blow to the idea of ISIS as a physical caliphate," the coalition said in a statement, citing its commanding general, Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend.

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