Syrian state TV reports on Sunday claimed that Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in an airstrike in Syria’s Raqqa, said The Islamic State leader was reportedly killed after the United States-led coalition’s forces entered the Islamic State stronghold on Saturday. But Baghdadi has been reported killed on several occasions in the past as well, and the reports turned out to be untrue later.

The Syrian Democratic Forces in a statement on Saturday said they had opened up the western front in Raqqa, after entering the eastern part last week, reported BBC. Supported by US-led airstrikes, the SDF has been encircling the city for months, and are now engaged in fierce fighting with Islamic State militants.

“The SDF captured the western half of the Al-Sabahiya neighbourhood and are reinforcing their positions there,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group told AFP on Saturday. He said they had advanced north to the district of al-Romaniya.

The SDF said that it had seized al-Mishlab district, east of Raqqa on Friday and al-Sabahiya district in the west, reported Reuters.

The US-led coalition estimates that Raqqa, which Islamic State seized from Syrian rebels in 2014, is defended by 3,000 to 4,000 militants.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 13 civilians had been killed in coalition airstrikes over the past 24 hours, according to a PTI report. Syrian activist collective Raqqa24 said that seven people were killed on Saturday when coalition aircraft bombed al-Nour street in Raqqa. But Reuters quoted former residents of Raqqa, who are in touch with their relatives in the city, as saying that at least 50 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in the US airstrikes since Friday evening. They put the number of dead in the attack on al-Nour street at 10, while at least 14 others were killed in the western neighbourhood of Jazra, where jets targeted an internet café.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on Saturday that the US-led coalition had used white phosphorus in Raqqa, the use of which is banned, under international law, in populated areas. Photographs and video clips posted online showed blinding spots of light spreading outward on Thursday night over the skies of Raqqa. Residents reported similar attacks on Friday.

The Islamic State media agency, Amaq, as well as a monitoring group called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently distributed these images online. A freelance reporter from Iraqi Kurdistan shared a video of the white phosphorus attack on Twitter.