More than 40000 children at risk in Syria's Raqqa

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard secure the area outside the Iranian parliament during an attack on the complex in the capital Tehran

The United Kingdom-based monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), said that recent advances were part of a government attempt to clear out ISIS positions in Raqqa's western countryside.

"Many are caught in the crossfire", said UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere.

Tens of civilians were killed on Thursday when the USA -led airstrikes targeted Syria's northern city of Raqqa with white phosphorus, pro-government Sham FM radio reported.

Surovikin also said that aviation of the US-led global coalition is impeding the struggle of the Syrian government forces against terrorists.

On Thursday, a drone that USA officials say was likely connected to Iranian-supported Hezbollah forces fired on US -backed troops and was shot down by an American fighter jet in southern Syria near a base where the USA -led coalition is training Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group. "It raises a question why they do it and what their real goals are".

He called on all parties to provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city.

On Wednesday, as SDF fighters entered the city, they witnessed heavy clashes in the Al Meshleb neighbourhood, with ISIL firing multiple mortar rounds towards the advancing forces.

The deaths come as US-backed fighters try to push further into Raqa, two days after finally entering the northern city.

IS has been fighting back against the advancing forces with snipers as well as drones armed with explosives, according to the SDF.


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

"However, in the course of their offensive, the government troops were confronted with counteraction from the aviation of the US-led worldwide coalition".

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

"Parents have to make an impossible decision", said MSF emergency coordinator Puk Leenders.

If civilians flee they also face the risk minefields and bullets from IS militants.

The SDF has scored a series of victories since launching its operation to take Raqa in November, including capturing the strategic town of Tabqa and its adjacent dam in May.

The Syrian Democratic Forces militia has spent seven months advancing on the city, with backing from the US-led coalition bombing Daesh in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

The U.S. has dealt the Syrian government and its allied troops several blows near Tanf close to the border with Jordan, where the U.S. trains Syrian opposition forces.

"Russia has been very helpful and I think that the calm we see today is largely due to their efforts", Davis said.

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