The rapid pace of airstrikes on ISIS’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, Syria, is a result of the intense fighting US-backed fighters have seen in the “hardest part of the city,” the commander of the international coalition said Tuesday. Syrian Democratic Forces need “greater assistance” as they move deeper into the city about two months after the campaign began, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. This, coupled with the fact that Raqqa is now the coalition’s highest priority after the liberation of Mosul in Iraq, has meant a dramatic spike in airstrikes, Townsend said Tuesday in Baghdad. On Monday alone, coalition aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in the city, hitting 13 ISIS units and 24 vehicles,
US Central Command announced. Over the weekend, 33 strikes hit ISIS targets in the city. Townsend said he has seen claims of increased civilian casualties as the fight has increased, but said claims that there has been a significant rise are not based on “hard information.” —Brian Everstine
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