United Nations expresses concern about safety of Raqqa civilians

Syrian army closes in on IS-held town in Raqqa

The US has been backing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their push to capture Raqqa from the Islamic State, enabling the SDF to capture 55 per cent of Raqqa following a two-month battle.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

Dillon told The Associated Press in an email that the significance is that the SDF, despite Daesh's best efforts, have successfully battled across the entire city from both sides and have joined forces.

The U.S. -backed SDF has been trying to liberate Raqqa from ISIS for months.

The attack is the latest in a series of airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition that also inflict casualties on civilians. Turkey's Cilvegozu stands across from Bab al-Hawa in Syria's Idlib province. They were handed over on Tuesday at a Syria-Iraq border crossing.

BEIRUT-U.S. -backed Syrian fighters advancing on Daesh from the eastern and western parts of the northern city of Raqqa have linked up for the first time since launching their offensive on Daesh's de facto capital, officials said Friday.

Erdogan said Turkey "cannot allow the passage of weapons", suggesting humanitarian aid has "practically turned into an armament process".

"We are taking the necessary precautions in Hatay's 150-kilometer border with Syria", Yildirim said, in order to prevent "humanitarian dramas" and threats against Turkey.

An estimated 10,000 to 25,000 people are stuck in the city, the Islamic State group's main stronghold, said United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who noted that "exact figures remain hard to verify due to the situation on the ground".

The fight for Raqqa has prompted tens of thousands of civilians to flee, with many wounded by crossfire or IS-planted explosive devices during their escape.

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