The US-led coalition has dropped both American and Syrian fighters behind the city of Raqqa in an effort to cut off the ISIS escape route out of the city. That’s an encouraging sign that perhaps the battle to drive out the insurgents from Syria is going well.

According to reports from inside Syria, five helicopters, supported by five fighter jets, dropped US Marines and dozens of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters near the northern town of Shurfa on Wednesday afternoon.

The purpose of the operation is to seize the key Tabqa dam across the Euphrates River. This will isolate Raqqa from the remaining ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. Raqqa was named the capital city of the self-styled caliphate.

The group said in a statement that the operation was in preparation for an assault on Tabqa, an ISIL redoubt 28 miles west of Raqqa.

They claimed to have captured four villages and severed the main artery running between the extremists’ de facto capital and the western countryside.

Top officials from the 68-nation alliance are set to meet in Washington today to hear more about a revised plan drafted by the Pentagon and presented to US President Donald Trump in February.

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The meeting was the first of all the coalition’s top diplomats since September 2014.

Meanwhile, the US and President Donald Trump are having discussions on whether or not to continue to support the YPG, the Kurdish group that is fighting ISIS but is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and President Erdogan. If the US should shift its allegiance away from YPG, it could signal a thawing of relations between Washington and Ankara.

The US is also ramping up plans to add another 1000 troops to Syria in support of the SDF.

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Photo courtesy DOD