Backed Syrian forces take one side of Euphrates Tabqa dam

A US -backed Syrian alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias on Sunday stormed a military airport in northern Syria held by Islamic State, close to the country's largest dam which may be in danger of collapse.

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.

The UN warned this year of flooding in Syria from the dam, which is at risk from high water levels, deliberate sabotage by IS and further damage from air strikes.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, said the alliance was fighting north of the airport to reinforce its positions.

To the west of Raqqa, the SDF is aiming to capture the town of Tabqa on the south bank of the Euphrates, along with a nearby dam and airbase after United States helicopters helped the militia's fighters establish a bridgehead across the river last week.

The U.S. -led coalition has expressed confidence in the SDF's ability to make significant gains in Raqqa, as its Iraqi partners have done in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported that IS had ordered Raqqa residents to evacuate, though without their furniture.

"In Tabqah, after four days on the ground the multi-pronged assault on the dam, airfield and town are continuing with heavy fighting north of dam and minimal resistance to the south of the dam", he said.

Operations are now focused on the strategically important town of Tabqa on the Euphrates River, and the adjacent dam and military airport.




A leading Syrian opposition group is calling on the USA -led coalition to stop targeting residential areas in and around Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital.

The alliance was also focused on a strategically important town of Tabqa near Raqqa, with a dam and an airport nearby, AFP reported. Although several groups blamed coalition air strikes the coalition claimed it had no information that it had struck civilians near Raqqa but said the reports would be investigated.

The latest round of UN-backed Syria peace talks entered a second day in Geneva on Friday but there was little hope of a breakthrough in negotiations that have yielded little in previous rounds.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition airstrikes have killed 89 civilians in the Raqqa province in the past week, including 35 in the Badya school, in the village of Mansoura.

The airlift was the first of its kind in Syria, created to kick-start an offensive to recapture IS-held territory west of Raqqa, the extremist group's self-declared capital.

The SNC said it believes coalition forces were behind an airstrike that killed at least 30 civilians sheltering in a school in the countryside outside Raqqa on March 21.

A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter walks with his weapon in northern Raqqa province.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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