US-backed alliance moves deeper into Syria's Tabqa city

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces say they made a big advance in the strategic city as part of campaign to drive Daesh from its stronghold of Raqqa.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

SDF entered Tabqa on Monday as part of offensive against Raqqa, Daesh's self-proclaimed capital in Syria.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition has made a major advance in Tabqa, a strategically vital town controlling Syria's largest dam. It is their latest advance in their campaign to drive Daesh from its stronghold of Raqqa, the alliance and a war monitor said on Sunday.

The SDF said in a statement that it had captured six more districts of Tabqa and distributed a map showing that Daesh now controlled only the northern part of the town, next to the dam.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Britain-based war monitor, said that the SDF had gained almost complete control over Tabqa in its advance.

Turkey's concerns

The SDF is dominated by the YPG - the armed wing of the PYD - which is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state. The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the EU. 

However, the US considers YPG/PYD to be a "reliable partner" on the ground in Syria against Daesh and continues to support them in the field.

Turkey wants to participate in the US-backed Raqqa offensive provided PKK-linked groups are not involved in the fighting. 

Campaign part of Raqqa offensive

​The SDF entered Tabqa on Monday as part of their offensive against Raqqa, Daesh's self-proclaimed capital in Syria.

Supported by the US-led coalition air strikes and special forces advisers, the SDF surrounded Tabqa in early April.

The town sits on a strategic supply route about 55km west of Raqqa, and served as an important Daesh command base, housing the group's main prison.

The city is home to an estimated 85,000 people, including Daesh militants from other areas.

Around 500,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country's war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

The war in Syria has caused the worst refugee crisis since World War II. More than half of the country's population have been displaced. Turkey is the largest host country, providing shelter to some 2.75 million Syrians. 

TRTWorld and agencies