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US-backed Kurdish fighters take 80% of Syria's Tabqa

Members of the US-backed SDF fighters guard on March 28, 2017 the Tabqa dam. (Photo by AFP)

US-backed Kurdish forces have gained control over 80 percent of Syria's Tabqa town after a week of fighting with the Daesh terrorist group, a UK-based monitoring group says.

The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered the town from the south on April 24 as part of an offensive to capture Raqqah, the Takfiri group’s stronghold in the Arab country.  

The US-backed forces have steadily advanced north, laying siege on three neighboring districts on the bank of the Euphrates River.

"The SDF now controls more than 80 percent of Tabqa," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said. 

He added that Daesh “only holds those two neighborhoods, known locally as the first and second quarters," in the whole town.

Tabqa is situated on a strategic supply route some 55 kilometers west of Raqqah and serves as an important Daesh command base. The town also lies near Tabqa Dam, commonly known as the Euphrates dam that is held by Daesh.

The monitoring group noted that clashes were ongoing on Monday morning, with bombing raids by the US-led coalition striking the town.

Tabqa was surrounded by the SDF in early April after the assault on the town began in late March.

Recent advances by Kurdish fighters under the US aerial cover have escalated tensions between Washington and Ankara which is wary of separatist activities on its own turf.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been seeking to send a tough message to Donald Trump, ordering airstrikes against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Turkey last week bombed targets of YPG Kurdish fighters in Syria, drawing Washington's wrath, and on Sunday Erdogan warned more action could be imminent.

"We can come unexpectedly in the night," said Erdogan. "We are not going to tip off the terror groups and the Turkish Armed Forces could come at any moment."

The US regards the YPG as its best ally on the ground in its military operations in Syria but Ankara says the group is the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged an insurgency since 1984 inside Turkey that has left tens of thousands dead.


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