The "Raqqa Campaign" that never was and slow-moving Mosul offensive

Syrian rebels in combat

But it lacked details on how the group dominated by Kurds plans to oust the militants from the city, home to almost 200,000 mostly Sunni Arabs and an estimated 5,000 IS fighters.

A senior USA official says Washington will provide air support for an offensive to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group. The Iraqi forces, who began their operation October 17, are trying to push deeper into the city, which is the militants' last urban bastion in Iraq.

U.S. officials had previously noted that there would possibly be "overlap" between the operations in Mosul and Raqqa.

Kurdish and Iraqi military commanders have been urging that the fight to retake Raqqa begin soon in order to prevent ISIS from consolidating forces and reinforcing defenses in the Iraqi city of Mosul as forces fight to liberate that city from ISIS' control.

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An official who read out a statement said the operation to liberate Raqqa, dubbed the "Euphrates Rage" operation, had officially begun.

Turkey's defense minister suggested last week that instead of the Kurds, Turkish-backed forces can present an "alternative". A USA military spokesperson in Baghdad told the New York Times that "it may be some time" before the 30-40,000 SDF fighters will reach Raqqa, and that the us -led coalition will work to train more forces in preparation for the attack on the city itself.

"Our hope is that the Turkish state will not interfere in the internal affairs of Syria". At the news conference, an unnamed SDF official expressed concern about potential Turkish involvement in the Raqqa assault.

The co-leaders of the left-wing pro-Kurdish group People's Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, were recently arrested along with nine other members of the party for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda in Turkey.

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"[The operation] will start by taking Raqqa countryside and then the goal is the city", Selo added.

Washington has promoted the SDF as a key ally in the fight against IS, but the alliance is complicated by Turkey's fierce opposition to the YPG. When Turkey intervened in Syria in August, the SDF had just captured Manbij, leaving it poised to close the 70 kilometer (45 mile) gap separating two Kurdish enclaves along the Turkish frontier, something Ankara was determined to prevent. The assault by the SDF - an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces that has dealt substantial blows to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria - represents an intensified global effort to squeeze the extremist group as it loses control of vast territory in Iraq and Syria.

"We can not extinguish the fire in our neighbor's house if our home is burning", he added.

"Doing operations simultaneously with the campaign to liberate Mosul will complicate command and control for the enemy, giving them more problems to solve than their flagging command and control can manage", he added.

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Sello said on Sunday that the SDF had "agreed definitively" with the United States "that there will be no role for Turkey or the armed factions allied with it in the operation" to capture Raqqa.

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