Syrian army closes in on IS-held town in Raqqa

ISIS militants on parade

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Friday linked up the Eastern and Southern axis of Raqqa city after heavy fighting with ISIS militants.

"Fighting in the tightly packed old city is particularly hard, with ISIS rigging buildings and even corpses with improvised explosives to try and stall the SDF advance", said Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the US -led counter ISIS coalition.

The Syrian Democratic Forces saved 7 Christians from the terrorists of the "Islamic State" on August 8 in the Syrian city of Raqqa, "Armenpress" reports Istanbul-based "Agos" periodical informs.

"Despite these fierce and suicidal tactics [of ISIS], the SDF continues to progress", Dillon said.

The linkup of the eastern and western fronts deprives militants access to the Euphrates River - and effectively leaves the remaining militants in Raqqa and thousands of civilians surrounded.

IOM said that its partner agencies have found that two-thirds of the returnees have gone to the northern Aleppo governorate, where government forces ousted rebels from the city of Aleppo previous year.

Mr Bali said the key difficulty facing advancing SDF fighters was to avoid striking civilians used by ISIL as human shields.

News releases from Operation Inherent Resolve said there were 24 airstrikes on Islamic State tactical units in Raqqa on Monday and 25 on Tuesday.

"Our forces have saved two Armenian families today", said Mustafa Bali, Director of the Information Office of the SDF. The two sides are locked in a grinding battle of attrition that ranks among the toughest challenges to date for the anti-Islamic State coalition.

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

The U.N. migration agency said its partner agencies have found that two-thirds of the returnees have gone to the northern Aleppo province, where government forces ousted rebels from the city of Aleppo previous year.

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