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Syrian fighters advance towards Islamic State-held Raqqa

US-backed Syrian forces said on Saturday they are close to capturing an Islamic State-held town that lies halfway between the former IS-stronghold of Tabqa and its de facto capital, Raqqa.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they are in control of 90 per cent of the town of Mansoura, 16 miles south-west of Raqqa.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the SDF has been engaged in fierce fighting with IS militants along the southern bank of the Euphrates River, around Mansoura. The river leads to Raqqa.

The US has backed the SDF with weapons, air power, and ground support in its campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in Syria.

Raqqa has been held by the militants since 2014.

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