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A US-backed Syrian force launched an assault on the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa

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A U.S. backed Syrian force announced Tuesday that it has begun an assault on the northern city of Raqqa, which is considered the de facto capital of ISIS, CBS News reported.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces had been advancing towards Raqqa since November, taking back wide swathes of land from extremist fighters. Last week, they made their way to the northern and eastern gates of the city.  

Were ISIS to look outside Raqqa's walls, they would see opposition forces on the city's northern, eastern and western sides. 

SDF fighters have reportedly been shelling the city since Monday night, killing 12 people in the process, although other reports put the number as high as 21. 

State-news agency SANA reported that families were fleeing the city in boats across the Euphrates river ahead of the expected invasion of the city. 

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