USA Today's report observes that Kurdish militias and their Arab allies have clashed with Turkish-supported Syrian forces near the city of Manbij, but Syrian forces recently displaced the Kurds with Russian air support.
The United States risks major damage to its relationship with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey if the US includes Kurdish forces in the fight to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday.
With fulsome U.S. support, the Kurdish-led SDF will spearhead the offensive in Raqqa - a majority-Arab city.
But despite the buildup of anti-ISIS forces and extensive planning, the actual offensive to retake Raqqa may still not be coming soon.
The U.S., Turkey and other members of the coalition fighting the Islamic State have been consulting for months about the makeup of the force that will participate in the Raqqa operation, Dorrian said.
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Their positions will be about 20 miles away from IS-controlled areas.
According to the Post, the artillery deployment had been in the works "for some time" and was not part of President Donald Trump's demand for a new plan to increase the pace of the anti-IS war.
The moves to pre-position USA troops closer to the fight, so they can be deployed as needed, are the kinds of decisions that are needed to be able to make more quickly, according to military commanders, without having to go to the White House every time for approval. The coalition said it was investigating the incident.
Meanwhile, Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Observatory monitor group, said that the major battle for Raqqa is "very close".
The SDF, which includes YPG-allied Arab groups, says it ruled out any Turkish role during meetings with US officials last month.
The U.S. -led coalition did not confirm the strikes and there was no immediate indication from officials which nation's aircraft were involved.
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It also billed it as an operation that would stem the flow of foreign fighters, who make up a significant contingent of Isis, to Syria, and the flight of refugees from the war-torn country.
In Deir al-Zour, the SDF continued to advance against IS in the countryside of that oil-rich province, capturing four towns there on Friday following intense battles with IS, according to local Qasioun newspaper.
"The enemy fought fiercely in the first defensive line from Al-Ghazlani base to Wadi Hajar and to Al-Sumood neighborhood", Saadi said, referring to areas that Iraqi forces have recaptured since unleashing their offensive on February 19.
Islamic State is also being fought in northern Syria in separate campaigns by the Russian-backed Syrian army, and by the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army rebel groups Turkey backs.
But Turkey regards the SDF as a cover for the Kurdish YPG militia, branded as a terrorist organization by Ankara.
As for the Syrian army, the SDF operations in Raqqa and elsewhere could be a positive thing since there is an undeclared coordination between both forces, observers say.
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