A Syrian activist says that ISIS is using living in the city of Raqqa as human shields during battles against Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began an operation on Tuesday to take control of areas in Northern Raqqa from the militant group. The group’s offensive is supported by US warplanes, presstv reported.  

 

The SDF fighters reportedly moved south from Tal Abyad town near the Turkish border toward Ain Issa, about 60km Northwest of Raqqa.

 

The alliance’s commander Rojda Felat said the aim of the operation was to "liberate Northern Raqqa" and people who live under the "oppression" of ISIL.

 

"The campaign is aimed at repelling terrorist attacks on Shaddadi, Tal Abyad and Kobane, ensuring the security of our people," she added.

 

Some 22 militants were killed in the offensive, some Western-based humanitarian groups said.

 

This came as Abdel Aziz al-Hamza from the 'Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently' citizen journalist group said that ISIL militants use the civilians “as a cover. So you'll find them in the same building. In a civilian building, you'll find two or three apartments for ISIL fighters."

 

ISIL militants also use “some schools as places to stay because these schools have basements, something underground, so they are protected from the air strikes. And they are surrounded by civilian buildings," Hamza also said.

 

Hamza said Raqqa citizens are besieged and cannot leave the city. "ISIL doesn't let anyone leave the city. At the same time, life has become at least ten times more expensive in the city."

 

Thousands of people queue to get food from a relief kitchen in the city every day, Hamza also said.

 

The Tuesday operation is regarded as the most serious operations against the terrorists in Raqqa since the city was proclaimed by ISIL as the de facto capital of their “caliphate” in 2014.