A US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance on Friday fought fiercely to drive the Islamic State (IS) militant group from a hilltop north of the Islamist militants’ de facto Syrian capital of Raqa, officers said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces -- which on November 5 launched an offensive to retake Raqa city with support from a US-led coalition -- encircled the village of Tal Saman some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Raqa.
Fighting also raged between the SDF and IS group inside Tal Saman, an officer said after returning from the front.
"The jihadists have sent three car bombs since Thursday. Our forces managed to blow them up," Farhad Kurdistan said.
"Our forces are using heavy weapons because Daesh is putting up tough resistance," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS group.
SDF fighters said Tal Saman offers a view of surrounding rocky desert terrain and villages near Raqa, which has been under IS group control since 2014.
"Daesh is resisting because Tal Saman is on a hill from which one can see the villages" outside Raqa city, another officer said, asking to remain anonymous.
In neighbouring Iraq, US-backed forces are also pressing an assault to retake the IS group bastion of Mosul from the Islamist militants.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 300,000 people since it started with anti-government protests in 2011 and has since escalated into a complex, multi-faceted war.