Backed Syrian militias push into Islamic State-held Raqqa

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The SDF are expected to move from Meshleb into neighbouring al-Senaa, with the area in between being targeted by the US-coalition overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"Many are caught in the crossfire", said UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere, according to AFP.

The evening news broadcast on Al-Manar TV, which belongs to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, hailed the advance of the pro-government forces, and the Hezbollah fighters embedded with them.

While US officials continue to present their forces inside Syria as "non-combat" forces in the country purely to "advise and assist", they are now confirming that some of the special forces have entered the ISIS capital city of Raqqa, and are close to the front lines in the city's invasion.

USA -backed Syrian forces have advanced into opposite sides of Islamic State's so-called Syrian capital of Raqqa, the forces and a war monitor said on Saturday.

He called on all parties to provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city.

SOHR said that militants were digging trenches and tunnels in the al-Mishlab neighborhood, in Raqqa's southeastern outskirts, the first district the SDF reached earlier this week.

The deaths come as US-backed fighters try to push further into Raqa, two days after finally entering the northern city.

SDF fighters were armed mostly with light weapons including Kalashnikovs, and were also returning mortar fire on ISIL positions.

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"However, in the course of their offensive, the government troops were confronted with counteraction from the aviation of the US-led global coalition".

"Hundreds" of USA military personnel are taking part in the Raqqa offensive, according to the Pentagon, which said Thursday it believed up to 2,500 extremists were still holed up in Raqqa.

Tens of thousands of people have fled Raqqa and the surrounding area since the SDF launched its Operation Wrath of the Euphrates to capture the ISIS bastion last November.

But thousands have fled in recent months, and the United Nations humanitarian office said on Tuesday that it estimated about 160,000 people remained in the city.

Many have described harrowing journeys as they fled Raqa city, with IS fighters targeting them as they tried to escape.

Elsewhere in Syria, a U.S. warplane shot down a pro-regime drone on Thursday night near the Jordanian border in the latest incident in escalating tensions in the country's south.

The US-led coalition said on Tuesday that it had hit a regime convoy that was nearing the Al-Tanaf garrison, used by US and British troops to train Syrian rebels to fight Daesh.

"As long as pro-regime forces are oriented toward Coalition and partnered forces the potential for conflict is escalated", CENTCOM said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Surovikin said Friday the US -coalition along with the allied Kurds "collude with the leaders of the IS, who surrender the areas under their control and head to provinces where Syrian government forces operate".

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