(Reuters) The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an attack on an eastern district of Islamic State-held Raqqa and on a military base on the northern outskirts of the city on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“It started today at dawn,” Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters. SDF officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The United States has so far ruled out cooperating with the government in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, where separate military campaigns have forced the jihadist group into retreat.
Islamic State militants still control tracts of Syria’s eastern deserts and most of Deir al-Zor province bordering Iraq, but they have been on the back foot over the past year.
With the help of Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, the Syrian army has been stepping up attacks on Islamic State in the eastern Aleppo countryside.
The Syrian army said on Saturday that it seized mountainous territory from Islamic State east of the road that links Damascus to Aleppo, a critical lifeline for the government that has often come under IS attack.