Four journalists injured by ISIS mortars in Raqqa

SDF fighters unload boxes of ammunition supplied by the US-led coalition in a village north of Raqa

SDF fighters unload boxes of ammunition supplied by the US-led coalition in a village north of Raqa

Moscow has leveled heavy accusations at US -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.

"Many are caught in the crossfire", said UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere, according to AFP. On Thursday, the US shot down an armed drone it said had attacked its units embedded with local opposition forces in the region.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more than 25 airstrikes overnight on Raqqa saying they killed 17 people, including 12 who were killed at an Internet cafe.

Mahmoud said the US-led coalition against Isis was supporting the ground operation from the air, but that American special forces stationed in the area had not entered the city.

"There is an impression that under the slogan of fighting worldwide terrorism in Syria the Americans are using IS to offer resistance to government forces' advances", he said at a briefing.

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"Hundreds" of USA military personnel are taking part in the Raqqa offensive, according to the Pentagon, which said Thursday it believed up to 2,500 ISIS fighters were still holed up in Raqqa. They are expected to progress from the district into neighbouring Al-Senaa and the Observatory said some of the overnight strikes targeted the area between the two districts.

A Pentagon spokesman, Eric Pahon, said "hundreds" of U.S. military personnel were taking part in the Raqa offensive.

An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under Daesh rule in Raqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.

The Kurdish-Arab alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) broke into Raqqa city's east earlier this week, months after they launched an operation to capture the extremist stronghold.

Talal Sillo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF said Tuesday that the "great battle" had begun.

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We are greater together than apart. "When people speak of Nigeria and respect this country, it is because of the diversity; because of the strength in numbers".

Several hundred thousand civilians still live in the city.

It comes as the anti-IS force came under criticism after the US-led coalition launched banned white phosphorus into the city.

Lt. Gen Steve Townsend, the coalition's commanding general, said the twin offensives in Mosul and Raqqa could deal an important blow to Islamic State recruiting.

Along with Mosul in Iraq, Raqa was one of the twin pivots of the self-styled Islamic "caliphate" that IS declared almost three years ago.

It was the second time in less than a month that the coalition had attacked pro-regime forces that strayed too near to the garrison.

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