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Ankara-PKK divisions could have major impact on Raqqa battle

As the operation to clear Raqqa from IS continues, tensions are rising in the al-Bab region to the north of Aleppo, where a clash between Free Syrian Army forces supported by Turkey and local fighters backed by the People's Protection Units is becoming more likely.
Rebel fighters gather during their advance towards the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab, northern Syria October 26, 2016. Picture taken October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi - RTX2TKNU
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AIN ISA, Syria — Operation Wrath of the Euphrates, launched Nov. 4 to liberate Raqqa, continues. As of Nov. 17, when this article was written, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were 28 kilometers (17 miles) from the Raqqa city center.

The Raqqa operation is advancing more quickly than anticipated. Fighters on the front line, who have coalition air support, claim the Islamic State (IS) cannot hold up against them. Al-Monitor spoke with the operation's spokesperson, Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, in the field. Ahmed said they are going to start the siege of Raqqa as planned, but the urban phase of the battle will be planned differently.

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