Syrian Army enters ISIS-held Raqqa

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The Syrian Army crossed the boundary of Raqqa Province, home to the de facto capital of the Daesh terrorist group, after a major Russian-backed offensive against the terrorists, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.

The offensive is the third big assault on the terrorist group in recent days after Iraqi forces attempted to storm a city and a Syrian militia advanced against terrorists, Reuters reported.

The three big offensives are some of the most aggressive campaigns against Daesh since it captured some parts of Iraq and Syria two years ago.

Heavy Russian airstrikes hit Daesh-held territory in eastern areas of Syria’s Hama Province, near the boundary of Raqqa Province, on Friday when the army reached the edge of the province.

Raqqa city, further east, is Daesh’s de facto capital in Syria and, along with Mosul in Iraq, the ultimate target of those seeking to destroy the group.

The army was making its advances from the Athriya area of eastern Hama Province, close to the provincial border with Raqqa. State media said on Friday the army had made territorial gains and inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists.

State media has given no indication of how many troops are involved in the offensive, or what weaponry they might be using.

The report also had no comment about numbers or weapons, but said at least 26 Daesh terrorists had been killed along with nine from the Syrian and allied forces.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said on Friday the army operation did not aim to reach Raqqa city within the coming weeks, but was to reach Tabqa city and Lake Assad, which Taqba overlooks.

Daesh captured Tabqa in 2014 at the height of its rapid expansion in Syria and Iraq. Tabqa, the location of an airbase, is some 50km (30 miles) west of Raqqa city

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