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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

US-backed forces seize town with ISIL military base near Raqqa

An alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces is trying to oust ISIL from its headquarters in Raqqa

ISIL ran a major military base and training camp in the town south of the city of Raqqa. Photo via AP
ISIL ran a major military base and training camp in the town south of the city of Raqqa. Photo via AP

US-backed Syrian militias have captured a town south of the city of Raqqa where ISIL ran a major military base and training camp, a spokesman for the militias said on Tuesday.

An alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is trying to oust ISIL from its headquarters in Raqqa.

SDF media official Mustafa Bali said the militias had seized the town of Al Ukeirshi, some 15 kilometres downstream from Raqqa on the Euphrates river.

The SDF pushed into Raqqa last month after a long offensive, backed up by air strikes and special forces from the US-led coalition.

A series of recent advances along the southern bank of the Euphrates have allowed the SDF to completely besiege the militants inside Raqqa and to press on south of the city.

The SDF alliance, spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has also been waging fierce battles inside the Old City of Raqqa since last week, after US-led coalition jets breached its historic walls.

In Al Ukeirshi, ISIL killed scores of its own forces execution-style in 2015 for desertion or on accusations of treachery, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ISIL named the training camp it established in the town after Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US forces in 2011.