Syrian Democratic Forces, government troops cease fighting in al-Raqqa
A file photo shows a soldier aiming an automatic rifle through a peephole in a wall at Raqqa city, Syria, June 11, 2017. EPA/YOUSSEF RABIE YOUSSEF
Beirut, Jun 19 (efe-epa).- Fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces and government troops in Syria's al-Raqqa province ceased on Monday after it started the night before when an international coalition aircraft shot down a Syrian plane.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an apparent calm reigns in the areas north and northwest of the town of al-Resafa in the south of al-Raqqa and where the fighting took place.
Before the outbreak of clashes, the Syrian authorities had advanced through that region and recovered the villages of Jiedin and al-Shoaihan from the Islamic State terror organization.
On Sunday, the United States-led international coalition announced the shooting down of a Syrian air force plane after the aircraft bombarded SDF positions near the town of al-Tabqa in southern al-Raqqa.
However, the Syrian army said the plane was attacked by the coalition when it was carrying out a combat mission against the IS, and accused Washington of supporting terror and coordinating with the radicals.
The cessation of clashes between Syrian troops and the SDF coincides with an intensification of hostilities between the Kurdish-led alliance and the IS on the southern bank of the Euphrates River, which passes through the city of al-Raqqa.
The SDF is trying to take the area of Kasarat and complete the siege of the city of al-Raqqa from its four sides, since at present it is only surrounded from the east, the north and the west.
This force, which has the support of the international coalition and US special forces on the ground, reported through its Telegram account that its combatants have killed 16 IS fighters in clashes in areas in the west and east of al-Raqqa.
These clashes have been accompanied by coalition bombing of areas controlled by the IS, which have resulted in the deaths of four people on the eastern outskirts of al-Raqqa, the Observatory said.
This source added that the whereabouts of a group of 16 fighters of the Syrian elite forces are still unknown after they were surrounded by the IS in the vicinity of the Baghdad Gate, at the walls of the old town of al-Raqqa.
The extremists managed to surround the armed faction, which works with the SDF, through tunnels the IS had previously dug.
The SDF began on Jun. 6 the assault on al-Raqqa, considered the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate declared by the IS in Syria and Iraq in 2014.