On election day in U.S., a fight to the death with ISIL rages in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq

by WorldTribune Staff, November 8, 2016

As U.S. voters headed to the polls to elect President Barack Obama’s successor on Nov. 8, U.S.-backed forces pushed toward Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq amid heavy resistance from Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance said it had advanced south towards Raqqa as ISIL fought back with its reliable tactic of sending suicide bombers in explosives-packed vehicles.

Smoke billows in the background as seen from the position of Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Abu al-Ilaj on Nov. 7. /AFP
Smoke billows in the background as seen from the position of Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Abu al-Ilaj on Nov. 7. /AFP

“ISIL is sending car bombers but coalition planes and our anti-tank weapons are limiting their effectiveness,” an SDF commander said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed told AFP that the alliance’s forces had advanced on two fronts towards Raqqa. SDF fighters had pushed at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) south towards the city from the towns of Ain Issa and Suluk, she said.

In both cases SDF fighters were still some distance from Raqqa – on the Ain Issa front at least 30 kilometers (20 miles) away.

Meanwhile, south of Mosul, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, took the town of Hamam al-Alil from ISIL, a key objective in their three-week advance on Mosul.

Fighting also continued east of Mosul, with Kurdish peshmerga forces advancing into the town of Bashiqa.

A peshmerga statement said that by late Nov. 7 its forces were in Bashiqa and had “begun house-to-house clearances.”

VOA correspondent Jamie Dettmer, embedded with Kurdish forces, posted on Facebook:

“Serious fighting in Bashiqa this morning: town not cleared; heavy trading of fire in center of town; peshmerga commander killed by suicide bomber who ran at him arms out wide; pesh told to fill tunnels; crouching by a nice thick wall on a roof terrace. Don’t plan to raise my head until the shooting stops. So no worries. Have cigarettes, water and sandwiches. Don’t forget to vote today.”

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