US-backed forces seize Syria’s Tabqa, dam from ISIS

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) women fighters greet each other on the bank of the Euphrates river, west of Raqqa city, Syria April 8, 2017.

:: A US-backed alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters on Wednesday captured the key city of Tabqa and its nearby dam from ISIS militants, the force and a monitor told AFP.

“The Syrian Democratic Forces seized control of Tabqa and the adjacent dam,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Abdel Rahman said SDF forces were still combing through the city, which sits on the Euphrates River and on a strategic supply route about 55 kilometers (35 miles) west of Raqa, the Syrian heart of ISIS’s so-called caliphate.

SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP that his forces had “achieved victory and completely liberated (Tabqa) city and the dam”.

The SDF first entered Tabqa on April 24, advancing north and cornering the jihadists in two neighborhoods near the Tabqa dam.

But ISIS mounted a fierce resistance, using car bombs, snipers, and weaponized drones.

US-led coalition air strikes have pounded Tabqa and nearby ISIS positions for weeks as part of the broader offensive for Raqa further east.

The assault on Raqa, an operation dubbed “Wrath of the Euphrates”, was launched in November and has seen the SDF capture large swathes of countryside around the city.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

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