Kurdish-Led Forces of Euphrates Rage Operation Cut off Raqqa-Aleppo Road

The push on Deir Hafer comes as US aircraft ferried Syrian Kurdish fighters and allies behind ISIS lines to spearhead a major ground assault on the strategic IS-held town of Tabqa in Raqqa province, which borders Aleppo.

Also, on Monday, the US-led coalition fighter jets launched another round of air assault on civilian areas in al-Tabaqa region in Western Raqqa, killing at least 18 Syrian people.

Col. Joseph Scrocca, a US spokesman based in Baghdad, said in a teleconference with Pentagon reporters that the Americans supported the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish rebel groups that operates chiefly in northern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia alliance including Arab and Kurdish fighters, said USA forces had deployed with them in the air drop, saying the operation also aimed to block any advance by government forces from the west.A local official familiar with SDF operations said the airdrop took place on Tuesday.

Scrocca said the United States had carried out strikes in the area but did not confirm a USA strike on the building in question, adding the US military would look into the allegations.

That airlift marks a deepening United States involvement in Syria's conflict ahead of a looming battle for the extremists' de facto capital, Raqqa.

An air strike that hit a school sheltering displaced people near the Islamic-State held Syrian city of Raqqa killed at least 33 people, a group that monitors the war said on Wednesday. Mr Pohan said Tabqa is an important Isil-held area because it includes a dam that provides electricity to the area, as well as a military airfield.

A Pentagon spokesman on Wednesday said the coalition would investigate the alleged strike.

Wednesday's airlift, which Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, described as a first, displayed a new level of commitment to Syria's Kurds, whose partnership with the U.S.in fighting IS has prompted hard discussions with Turkey, which sees the militants as a national security threat. Both said that no USA troops were involved in fighting on the front line.

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said that the Turkish army was the aggressor in Wednesday's incident and that Turkish shelling of border villages around Afrin had wounded 10 civilians and was still continuing.

The coalition says they've conducted more than 300 airstrikes around Raqqa in the past month.

In a statement, the coalition forces cast doubt on these accounts, saying that while they "routinely strike [Islamic State] targets in this area", they "have no indication that an airstrike struck civilians near Raqqah as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims". Syrian and Russian aircraft have also carried out strikes against the IS group. That operation is also spearheaded by the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee.



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