Coalition official: No imminent danger to Tabqa Dam, ISIS losing more ground in Raqqa

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An SDF fighter taking position on the western bank of Euphrates River during clashes with ISIS militants. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

A spokesperson for the US-led coalition told ARA News on Tuesday that there is no imminent threat to the Tabqa Dam near Raqqa. This comes after ISIS propaganda suggested the dam could collapse as a result of coalition airstrikes.

“The Coalition is taking every precaution to ensure Tabqa Dam’s integrity. We do not assess the dam to be in imminent danger unless ISIS plans to destroy it,” said Col. Joe Scrocca, United States Army and Director of Public Affairs for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).

“The SDF [Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces] are in control of a spillway north of the dam that provides water to an irrigation reclamation canal which can be used to alleviate pressure on the dam if need be.  If the lake reaches dangerous levels the SDF can relieve the pressure through alternative means,” Col. Scrocca told ARA News.

“Tabqa Dam has not been structurally damaged to our knowledge and the Coalition seeks to preserve the integrity of the dam as a vital resource to the people of Syria.  The Coalition targets ISIS,” he stressed.

“When the Coalition strikes military targets on or near the dam we use only non-cratering munitions so as not to cause unnecessary damage to the dam. The SDF has a robust plan in place to care for the dam post liberation from ISIS that recognizes the importance of the dam to Syria’s economy, agriculture, basic human needs and security,” he said.

SDF commander Rojda Felat on Tuesday said that there was no damage to the dam, and that ISIS made this propaganda in order to slow down the SDF operation. “We have approached the dam precisely up to now. Our forces are very sensitive about the dam. The gangs have mined the dam,” she told local reporters.

“Therefore, even if any damage occurs on the dam, this will be due to the Daesh [ISIS] gangs,” she said, adding that eventually the last dam under ISIS control will be liberated.

The coalition spokesperson was however not able to confirm if the Tabqa Airbase which was taken by SDF forces would be used as a forward or logistical base.

“We will not reveal future plans. That being said, all airfields hold an inherent strategic value. We commend our partnered forces on the ground for their rapid progress to defeat ISIS,” coalition spokesperson Col. Joe Scrocca told ARA News.

On Tuesday, the SDF’s Euphrates Wrath operations room reportedly sent additional reinforcements to al-Tabqa in order to liberate the city after capturing the the military airport there.

The operation to take Tabqa was launched on March 21. So far, 14 villages, Tabqa military airport, and a big number of hamlets have been liberated from ISIS.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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