Syrian militia reaches Tabqa dam: SDF official

The US-led coalition's Col. Joe Scrocca, CJTF-OIR Director of Public Affairs, told ARA News on Saturday that fighting continues between the coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS militants near the Tabqah Dam in Raqqa Governorate.

USA -backed Syrian Kurdish forces say they have captured the Tabqa air base in northern Syria from Islamic State militants.

This week, the SDF with air and fire support by USA military, have reached the dam's entrance through clashes with IS militants.

Islamic State has ordered residents of Raqqa to evacuate after reports that a nearby dam weakened by US-led coalition airstrikes could collapse, activists have reported.

The SDF with the help of USA special forces and air strikes launched an operation late in 2016 to isolate Raqqa and it is now mostly "surrounded" but in a large pocket of land that backs onto the river.

'The SDF has taken control of more than 50 percent of Tabqa military airport.

The road to the dam was strewn with bits of burned vehicles and the casings of ammunition and the bodies of several alleged IS fighters lie in the shallow water of a canal, evidence of fierce fighting.

US-backed Kurdish and Arab forces are squeezing ISIS from the north, while Syrian government troops - backed up by Russian Federation - have been pushing from the west. Tabqa dam is 40km upstream of Raqqa on the Euphrates River.

An SDF spokesman later said inspections had been successful and the pause in fighting was now over.


The push toward the dam comes three days after USA aircraft ferried Syrian Kurdish fighters and allies behind IS lines to spearhead a major ground assault on the IS-held town of Tabqa where the dam is located.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said SDF fighters have been marching under air strikes and artillery cover from the US-led coalition, and are inside the village of Karama. The group warned the dam could burst.

US-backed Syrian rebels are trying to capture Raqqa from IS.

IS has held the military airport since August 2014, and it carried out one of its worst mass killings there, of some 200 government soldiers.

The SDF, backed by US special forces in a campaign that has driven Islamic State from large swathes of northern Syria, fights separately from other rebel groups that seek to topple President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Fighting at the dam held by IS in northern Syria put it out of service, risking unsafe rising water levels, a technical source told AFP. The exiled opposition coalition is taking part in UN-mediated talks in Geneva.

At least 33 civilians are reported to have been killed in Al Badiya School, west of Raqqa, during an airstrike on Monday night.

IS fighters are being pressed on two fronts - in Raqqa and in Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, as USA -backed government troops battle to complete their liberation of the country's second-largest city.


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