BEIRUT – Islamic State fighters appear to be shoring up their defenses around their Syrian stronghold Raqqa city after losing ground to Kurdish-led forces this week, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia said on Wednesday. A Kurdish-led advance deep into the heart of Islamic State territory is reversing the momentum of the militants, who seized major towns
in both Syria and Iraq last month. Kurds and their Syrian rebel allies came within 50 km (30 miles) of Raqqa city, Islamic State’s de facto capital, from which it rules over a self-declared caliphate across large areas of Syria and Iraq. On Wednesday YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said in an online message the Kurds had received information that Islamic State had “begun digging trenches in the vicinity of Raqqa to improve their defenses” following the Kurdish advances.