U.S.-backed fighters advance in Raqqa, Syria

Islamic State group jihadists wage fierce battles in their Syrian stronghold Raqqa in a bid to repel US-backed fighters advancing towards the walls of the Old City.

The Kurdish and Arab fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered Raqqa in early June, after months of fighting to encircle the northern city that has become a jihadist bastion.

Since then, they have seized one neighborhood in western Raqqa and another in the east, where they are now battling to secure control of the Al-Senaa district that leads to the Old City. (AFP)

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SDF fighters mourn

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters sit next to a coffin of a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter killed by Islamic State militants in Raqqa, during a funeral in Tal Abiad, Syria, June 23, 2017. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

A Kurdish fighter carries ammunition

A Kurdish fighter from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) carries ammunition in Raqqa, Syria, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

A SDF fighter flies a drone

A fighter from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) flies a drone in western Raqqa province, Syria, June 18, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

A Kurdish fighter looks out of a window in Raqqa

A Kurdish fighter from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) looks out of a window in Raqqa, Syria, June 18, 2017. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

A U.S.-trained police force salutes during a graduation ceremony

Graduates of a U.S.-trained police force, which expects to be deployed in Raqqa, salute during a graduation ceremony near Ain Issa village, north of Raqqa, Syria, June 17, 2017. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Kurdish fighters fire at a drone

Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) fire rifles at a drone operated by Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria, June 16, 2017. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Kurdish fighters extinguish a fire

Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) extinguish a fire in a wheat field burned during clashes with Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

SDF fighters carry their weapons

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters carry their weapons in Raqqa’s western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters ride on a pick-up truck

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters ride on a pick-up truck along a street in Raqqa’s western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters stand amid smoke

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters stand amid smoke in Raqqa’s western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighter gestures towards an armoured vehicle

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter gestures towards an armoured vehicle in Hawi Hawa village, west of Raqqa, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighter walks past a crater

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks past a crater in Raqqa’s western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters carry water

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters carry water as they walk in al-Sabahia district, west of Raqqa, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

Civilians are pictured inside their home

Civilians are pictured inside their home in Raqqa’s western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters stand in Jazra

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters stand in Raqqa’s western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

1,000-year-old Harqalah fortress ruin, west of Raqqa

A general view shows the 1,000-year-old Harqalah fortress ruin, west of Raqqa, Syria June 11, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

Mosque damaged by U.S.-led coalition bombardment

This undated frame grab from video posted online Saturday, June 10, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows a mosque that was damaged by bombardment by the U.S.-led coalition and U.S.-backed fighters in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. A U.S.-backed Syrian opposition force says it has captured a northwestern neighborhood in the northern city of Raqqa from the Islamic State group after two days of fighting. (Photo: Aamaq News Agency via AP)

SDF fighter takes a position inside a building

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter takes a position inside a building in the al-Mishlab district at Raqqa’s southeastern outskirts, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

Smoke rises from the al-Mishlab district

Smoke rises from the al-Mishlab district at Raqqa’s southeastern outskirts, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters stand atop of a building near Raqqa city

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters stand atop of a building near Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

Fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units talk

Fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) stand atop a building at the eastern outskirts of Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. Picture taken June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters unload boxes of ammunition

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters unload boxes of ammunition near Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters unload boxes of ammunition

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters unload boxes of ammunition near Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

A SDF fighter takes up a position

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter takes a position as smoke rises from the al-Mishlab district at Raqqa’s southeastern outskirts, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters gather near Raqqa city

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters gather near Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

A fleeing woman greets SDF fighters

A woman, who fled with others from an Islamic State-controlled area, greets Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters near Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

A SDF fighter uses a tablet

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter uses a tablet as he sits inside a room in the al-Mishlab district at Raqqa’s southeastern outskirts, Syria June 7, 2017. Picture taken June 7, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF fighters ride towards Raqqa

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters on their way to Raqqa, Syria June 6, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

SDF spokesman Talal Silo speaks at a news conference

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Silo speaks during a news conference in Hukoumiya village in Raqqa, Syria June 6, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)