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Advances against Islamic State in Raqqa slowed down, US army says

Advances against Islamic State in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa have slowed down amid stiff resistance from the militants, a spokesman for the US-led coalition has said.

US army spokesman Ryan Dillon estimates there are around 2,000 IS militants in the northern city, saying they are using civilians and children as human shields.

"We know this is not going to be an easy fight," Mr Dillon said.

The US has partnered with the Kurdish-dominated coalition fighting force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in its fight against IS in Syria.

In the month since they launched their offensive for Raqqa, they completed their encirclement of the militants and breached the heavily-fortified Old City, gaining a foothold inside.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army and members of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group have launched a major ground offensive in a border area between the two countries.

Government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported that military operations began on Friday from two fronts on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal and the Syrian village of Fleeta.

The offensive was widely expected after negotiations with militants to leave the area failed over recent days.

The region is a stronghold of Syria's al Qaida's branch, known as Fatah al-Sham Front, as well as the Islamic State group and the Levant People's Brigades.



From Belfast Telegraph