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US-backed Syrian coalition takes Raqqa district from Islamic State

Coalition of Kurdish and Arab groups take Qadisia, in west of Raqqa, after three days of intense fighting
Members of Syrian Democratic Forces, alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, advance farther into Islamic State group's Syrian bastion earlier this month (AFP/file photo)

A US-backed Syrian coalition of Kurdish and Arab groups advanced against the Islamic State (IS) group in the militants' Syrian capital of Raqqa on Sunday, taking the al-Qadisia district, they said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began its assault on Raqqa earlier this month after a lengthy campaign to isolate IS inside the city.

It took Qadisia, located in the west of Raqqa, after three days of intense fighting, it said in a statement on one of its official social media feeds.

The SDF has pushed IS from swathes of northern Syria over the past 18 months. Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have also taken territory from IS and the Syrian army has this year advanced rapidly against the group in desert areas.

The US-backed coalition has supported SDF advances against the militant group throughout the Raqqa campaign with artillery and air strikes, including some against IS leaders.

This month, the coalition said its air strikes had killed Turki Binali, a Bahraini cleric who was the group's top religious authority and the most senior known Gulf Arab in IS.

It also said last week it killed Fawaz al-Rawi, who it said was an important IS financier, in an air strike in Syria.

However, coalition air raids have also caused large numbers of civilian casualties, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

It said on Saturday that coalition air strikes in and around Raqqa had killed almost 700 civilians so far this year.

The coalition says it works hard to avoid killing civilians and investigates all reports that it has done so.