US-backed SDF forces isolate ISIS capital Raqqa: official

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Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in western Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

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.

“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.

“Aided by Coalition strikes, the SDF continued to liberate territory east of Raqqa to further isolate the city,” Col. Joe Scrocca said in an exclusive interview with ARA News.

He said that fighting continues north of Tabqah Dam.

“Just north of the Tabqah Dam SDF forces continue to engage ISIS positions north of the spillway and destroy defensive obstacles. Marine M777s heavy artillery have been hard at work providing all weather fire support while Apache helicopters have been targeting enemy positions with precision fires around the dam,” the US Colonel said.

He added that south of the dam, the SDF-affiliated Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) established a beachhead.

“On the south side of the dam, after securing their landing zones and the surrounding areas the SAC forces South of Lake Assad established a beachhead and a water line of communication with the rest of the SDF on the North side of the lake. This has enabled them to employ a fleet of boats to build their force – bringing in additional fighters as well as heavy equipment and armored vehicles to support their offensive,” Col. Joe Scrocca told ARA News.

On Saturday, the SDF announced the full isolation of Raqqa after taking the town of Karama.

Nawaf Xelil, a Kurdish analyst and former official from the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told ARA News that Raqqa is completely isolated now.

He stressed that Tabqah Dam was important centre for ISIS intelligence.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with their Syrian Arab Coalition fighters, launched a multi-pronged offensive behind enemy lines on Wednesday to liberate the Tabqah Dam in Syria from ISIS.

Apache helicopters, U.S. Marine artillery and special operation troops were part of this operation to drop SDF fighters near Tabqa.

“The Coalition supported this offensive with air movement and logistical support, precision airstrikes, Apache helicopters in close air support, Marine artillery, and special operations advice and assistance to SDF leadership,” the US-led coalition said in a statement.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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