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10 June 2017, 05:34 | Clarence Schmidt
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Moscow has leveled heavy accusations at USA -led coalition forces in Syria, who it claims is expediting the Islamic State group's exit from its Raqqa stronghold in an effort to undermine government efforts to quell terrorist activity in the country.
"There is an impression that under the slogan of fighting global terrorism in Syria the Americans are using IS to offer resistance to government forces' advances", he said at a briefing.
The violence came as Syrian troops and their allies have been clashing in southeastern Syria with USA -backed rebels near the border with Iraq. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then. The war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the SDF had taken Mishlab and more than half of Sabahia.
The US-led coalition said it had carried out 22 strikes near Raqqa on Wednesday, hitting ISIL fighting positions and vehicles as well as a weapons cache and a training camp.
But the force has struggled to advance from the city's north, where IS holds a military complex known as Division 17.
"Coalition forces are oriented on ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley", the statement added, using a different acronym for the Islamic State group.
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Surovikin said Russian forces had struck several IS convoys as they were leaving Raqqa. Photo Credit: Mohamad Abazeed/AFP via Getty Images "An estimated 40,000 children remain trapped in extremely unsafe conditions in Raqqa".
The Britain-based group reported 23 civilians killed in the overnight strikes, including 15 who were in an internet cafe in the western suburb of Jazra, just outside the city.
Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend said that defeating Daesh in Raqa would "deliver a decisive blow to the idea of the terror group as a physical caliphate".
One leaflet dropped could potentially endanger the lives of civilians following the instructions, telling people to head towards the SDF frontlines which could be a potentially deadly mistake given the likely extreme suspicion and nerves among the fighters.
In a video posted on its Aamaq news agency, IS also alleged the coalition used white phosphorous over Raqqa on Thursday at dusk, when Muslims would have been breaking their Ramadan fasts.
Global law prohibits the use of white phosphorous in civilian zones because of its indiscriminate effects - from starting fires to causing excruciating burns for bystanders over a large area - according to Human Rights Watch, which said it was investigating the allegations.
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