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The Latest: Syrian Kurds see force boosting in push on IS

The Latest: Syrian Kurds see force boosting in push on IS

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments related to Syria's civil war and the expected push against the Islamic State group's main stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces say they have enough fighters to take the Islamic State group's de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria.

The spokeswoman for the Syrian Democratic Forces said on Friday that their numbers are increasing, with residents of areas newly liberated from IS joining the ethnically mixed force.

Cihan Sheikh Ehmed says the SDF has been on the offensive in the Raqqa area since November and have closed major supply roads used by the Islamic State group. SDF has captured wide areas from IS since then, under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.

She says troops from the U.S.-led coalition have increased in numbers and are taking a bigger part in the battle for Raqqa. Earlier this week, the United States sent a couple of hundred Marines into northern Syria in preparations for the push on Raqqa.


10:55 a.m.

Turkey's military says Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces have killed — or "neutralized" — 71 Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria this week.

The operations are part of Turkey's months-long incursion into its war-torn neighbor in a push against the Islamic State group but also in an effort to restrict U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militias, which Ankara has declared a terrorist organization and which it considers to be linked to its home-grown Kurdish insurgency.

Friday's military statement says that since the Turkish operation started in August, the joint Turkish and Syrian opposition forces killed as many as 2,647 IS militants and 425 Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria.

It says that more than 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) in northern Syria are now under control of the Turkish-backed forces.