Coalition confirms Tabqa liberation, calls SDF ‘most committed’ partner against ISIS

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Kurdish SDF fighters (L), an ISIS militant (R). Photo: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News

The Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) completed the liberation of the Tabqa Dam, the city of Tabqa and its nearby airfield from ISIS jihadists, the US-led coalition said on Thursday, adding that the SDF will now move on to isolate and eventually liberate the city of Raqqa from ISIS.

“The multi-ethnic SDF forced the surrender of Tabqa Dam and the remainder of Tabqa City, continuing the trend of ISIS’s diminished control of territory and people. The SDF has now further isolated ISIS in Raqqa, the terror group’s stronghold, and will continue to pursue the military defeat of ISIS throughout Syria,” the coalition said in a statement obtained by ARA News.

“This is yet another victory by the SAC and the SDF, our most committed and capable ground force partners in the fight against ISIS who remain hard at work erasing ISIS from the battlefield, liberating their own people and lands,” said the Coalition Spokesman Col. John Dorrian.

“In Tabqa, the SDF’s increased pressure on ISIS from each flank allowed it to accelerate the pace of the fight, clear the final neighborhoods of the city, and isolate Tabqah Dam. Approximately 70 ISIS fighters conceded to the SDF’s terms, which included the dismantling of IEDs surrounding the dam, the surrender of all ISIS heavy weapons, and the forced withdrawal of all remaining fighters from Tabqa City,” the coalition said.

“The SDF accepted ISIS’s surrender of the city to protect innocent civilians and to protect the Tabqa Dam infrastructure which hundreds of thousands of Syrians rely on for water, agriculture, and electricity. The Coalition tracked fleeing fighters and targeted those that could be safely hit without harming civilians,” the coalition added.

Dorrian said about 30,000 of the city’s residents have been displaced from their homes since the battle for the city started in late March.

The SDF operation began on March 22 with a surprise aerial infiltration behind enemy lines to the south of Lake Assad, severs ISIS’s ability to reinforce Raqqa and denies ISIS a key coordination hub that its foreign terrorist fighters used since 2013 to plan local operations and external attacks against the West.

“With its seizure, the coalition has prevented a potential humanitarian disaster and ensured local citizens will continue to receive the dam’s basic services,” the coalition said.

“After ISIS’s defeat in northern Syria, ISIS moved its foreign fighters and external attack planning operations to Tabqah in order to avoid coalition airstrikes within Raqqa. The operation to seize the Tabqa Dam, airfield and city disrupts ISIS operations in Raqqa and their ability to defend the city and plan and execute external attacks against the West,” it said.

“With Tabqa now liberated and Raqqa further isolated, the Coalition and its partner forces continue to hinder ISIS’s ability to reinforce its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa, prevented a potential humanitarian disaster, and ensured local citizens will continue to receive the dam’s basic services,” the coalition said.

“The SDF’s success against ISIS demonstrates the power of working by, with and through local partner forces fighting ISIS, among their own people, in their own territory,” said coalition spokesperson Dorrian. “The SDF, fighting to liberate their own people and lands, have freed more than 8,000 square kilometers of Syria from ISIS since November.”

After liberating Tabqa, the General Command of the Euphrates Operations room announced the fourth phase of the campaign of the Euphrates Wrath to liberate Raqqa.

“The General Commanders announced the Euphrates Wrath Operation to resume the fourth phase of the campaign,” the SDF said. “After a halt of 15 days, the goal is to liberate the remaining villages around the city of Raqqa and prepare to begin liberating the city.”

“The leadership warned all the people to move away from the enemy centers and buildings. Moving to the safe areas temporarily to facilitate the liberalization process,” the SDF concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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