The Latest: Civilians flee IS-held areas in Syria’s Raqqa

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the war in Syria (all times local):

7 p.m.

A new video from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa shows scores of civilians fleeing in fear areas held by the Islamic State group and reaching a neighborhood controlled by U.S.-backed fighters.

U.S.-backed fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces have been on the offensive in Raqqa since June 5 and have so far captured more than 80 percent of the city that was the de facto capital of IS.

IS still controls the city’s stadium that is believed to be a jail run by the extremists, as well as the National Hospital and a small part of northern Raqqa.

There have been attempts to evacuate some 4,000 civilians still held inside IS-controlled areas but some officials have refused to allow IS fighters a safe route out of the city.

U.S. military spokesman Ryan Dillon tweeted Friday that SDF and the Raqqa Civilian Council, along with local Arab leaders, are continuing talks to evacuate civilians from Raqqa, denying reports that the U.S.-led coalition was blocking passage.

The video, released by Mezopotamya Medya on Friday, shows members of the Kurdish-led SDF receiving mostly women and children into the neighborhood, some carrying belongings.

Some men were searched before being allowed in while other men and women kissed the ground for making it out of IS areas safely.


5:30 p.m.

The Russian military says its warplanes have flown hundreds of sorties against the Islamic State group in eastern Syria.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff said Friday that Russian jets have flown 383 missions in the area of Deir el-Zour alone over the past week, hitting 993 IS targets.

He said Friday that the Syrian army has been successfully developing its offensive on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Rudskoi said IS counter-attacks involving over 1,000 militants who moved from Iraq have been repelled. He added that the Syrian troops are working to clear the town of Mayadeen from militants.

Rudskoi added that the zone under IS control has shrunk to 14,800 square kilometers (5,714 square miles), or less than 8 percent of Syria’s territory.


11 a.m.

Syrian activists say a suicide truck bombing by the Islamic State group has killed at least 18 people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says those killed in the attack late Thursday included civilians displaced by fighting in eastern Syria as well as Kurdish forces. The attack took place in Abu Fas, in the northeastern Hassakeh province. An activist-run group in Hassakeh reported a much higher toll, saying the attack included three suicide car bombings.

The civilians were fleeing the fighting in the adjacent Deir el-Zour province, where Syrian troops and U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces are waging separate offensives against the IS group in one of its last remaining strongholds.

There was no immediate claim for the attack.


10 a.m.

A Syria monitoring group and a rebel fighter say Turkish armored vehicles have rolled into northwestern Syria to implement a de-escalation agreement in a province dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the deployment of nearly 16 armored vehicles, five tanks and a military force late Thursday came days after Turkey sent reconnaissance missions to the area.

A rebel fighter says the troops deployed near a border crossing into the Idlib province, between a Kurdish-held area and an area held by Syrian rebels. The fighter spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the press. There was no immediate comment from the Turkish military.

Last week, Turkey announced an operation with Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces in Idlib.


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