AIN ISSA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) - The Syrian YPG-led forces have liberated a strategic town from the Islamic State (IS) insurgents in the vicinity of Raqqa, the higher commander of the operation said on Friday.
On the seventh day of the offensive, the SDF divisions liberated the strategic town of Hisha in northern Raqqa after they advanced for 25 km (15 miles) towards the city.
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Rojda Felat, the higher commander of the Kurdish-led forces fighting against IS in the battle for Raqqa, said the two divisions set off from Ain Issa and Suluk have met at the town of Heesha after controlling it fully.
"Our next target will be the strategic town of Tal Samin in northern Raqqa, so that we can update our new targets in the plan that we already made for the battle," she said.
Felat further pointed out that the purpose of Raqqa operation is eliminating terrorism and then leaving the liberated areas for the locals to run their affairs.
Concerning the casualties, no accurate numbers are reported as the SDF fighters and commanders are prevented to give statements to the media saying that the only reliable source is the SDF higher command.
Regarding the civilian casualties, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Wednesday that a US-led coalition air strike killed at least 16 people in the town of Heesha, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Raqqa.
SOHR is a British-based monitoring group which tracks the Syrian conflict using sources on the ground.
On November 5, the SDF launched an operation to drive Islamic State from its de facto capital in Syria.
Two divisions of about 30,000 fighters under the command of a YPG female commander, Rojda Felat, launched the operation from two fronts.
The first one was the Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa (an SDF-controlled town some 70 kilometers/40 miles to the north of Raqqa).
The second front was set off from the town of Suluk (some 84 kilometers/52 miles to the north of Raqqa).
Both divisions met on Thursday at Balikh River, a river of about 110 km (62 miles) that originates in border Kurdish-held Syrian town of Tal Abyad on the borders with Turkey and joins the Euphrates in Raqqa.
Editing by Ava Homa
(Additional reporting by Redwan Bezar, Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF)