Syrian army enters borders of IS de facto capital

Damascus: The Syrian army on Saturday entered the administrative borders of the northern province of al-Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State (IS) group. The Syrian army backed by Russian air cover managed to cross the administrative borders of al-Raqqa, just days after unleashing a wide-scale offensive on the route between the town of Athriya in Hama province, and the al-Tabaqa town in al-Raqqa countryside, Xinhua news agency reported. The Syrian forces are trying to reach the al-Furat lake and the road connecting al-Raqqa with the province of Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Only 40 km separate the army from the targeted areas, said the watchdog group. The fighting, which broke out on Thursday, has so far killed 26 IS militants and security forces. If the army succeeds, the IS will be besieged by the Syrian army in the south and southwestern parts of Aleppo, while the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) rebels will be besieging the terror group from the west.