Syria jet target Daesh positions in Raqqah city
“The air force destroyed positions and armored vehicle” in the western Raqqa countryside, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the city, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.
The Syrian forces crossed into the province of Raqqah on Tuesday and retook two villages of Kharbah Mohsen and Beir al-Saba on their way toward Raqqah city.
The gains are the latest to come as Syrian forces sweep through towns and cities that were once under the control of militants.
Backed by Hezbollah and other volunteer fighters on the ground and under Russia’s air cover, Syria has been making back-to-back gains against militants over the past weeks.
In addition to the Syrian army’s advance on Tuesday, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance of mostly Kurdish and Arab militants, said it had launched an operation aimed at pushing Daesh out of Raqqah.
Talal Sillo, an SDF spokesman, said the operation had begun the “great leap” towards Raqqah in coordination with the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh in Syria and neighboring Iraq.
The anti-terror fight took a fresh momentum last year, when pro-government forces liberated Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the start of war in 2011. The liberation hugely boosted the morale of the army and allied forces to go after terrorists in other towns.
The Aleppo win served as a prelude to a nationwide ceasefire, which was brokered between Damascus and militant groups by Russia and Turkey, in a diplomatic push supported by Iran.
On the back of the truce, Iran, Russia and Syria launched a diplomatic process which brought Syria’s warring sides to the negotiating table in the Kazakh capital, Astana.
Several rounds of Syria peace talks have been held in Astana with the mediation of Tehran and Moscow, as Damascus allies, as well as Turkey, which supports various militant groups.
Astana peace talks postponed
Meanwhile, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Russia, Turkey and Iran have postponed the next round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition initially planned to be held in the Kazakh capital city of Astana on June 12-13.
A spokesman for the ministry said the time for the next round of negotiations is still unclear.