Kurdish-led SDF forces expel ISIS jihadists from key town near Raqqa

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YPG fighters and other members of the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather in Kobane suburb after liberating Tishreen Dam from ISIS militants. File photo: ARA News

ARA News

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Tuesday liberated the town of Tabqa, one of the key strongholds for the Islamic State’s (ISIS) jihadist fighters in Raqqa province, officials reported.

Dr. Nasr Haji Mansour, a senior SDF advisor, said in an exclusive interview with ARA News that the SDF took over the final ISIS positions in Tabqa, but that clashes continue.

“The SDF recaptured the remaining three neighbourhoods of Tabqa after heavy clashes with ISIS terrorists. Both the new and old city of Tabqa were liberated on Tuesday,” Mansour confirmed.

The official also reported ongoing clashes between the US-backed SDF troops and ISIS militants in the district of Misherfeh.

“However, there are still some parts of the body of Tabqa Dam [near the town of Tabqa] under ISIS control,” Mansour told ARA News.

Furthermore, SDF fighters managed to trap ISIS militants near the dam and clashes continued, the SDF general command said in statement on Tuesday evening.

The SDF leadership added that clashes broke out again in the three liberated neighbourhoods where a number of ISIS militants appeared to have hidden themselves among civilians.

“Right now heavy clashes are taking place by heavy and light weapons in these neighbourhoods,” the SDF said in a statement. “After clean up operations, ISIS militants surprisingly appeared again dressed up as civilians.”

Until now nearly 95 per cent of Tabqahas been liberated by the US-backed SDF forces, amidst continuing clashes.

Meanwhile, Rojda Felat, the commander of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and a leading commander in the offensive to retake the de facto ISIS capital Raqqa, has denied reports that Tabqa has been fully taken.

Jesper Söder, a Swedish SDF member, told ARA News: “We are advancing in to Tabqa area everyday. But there is really hard resistance from Daesh [ISIS].”

“So, we thought that the operation for the city would start in April, but Daesh have put up a hard fight. I think we should have beaten them in Tabqa already, but they have good positions to defend themselves and even from aircrafts,” Söder said, adding: “A lot of human shields are being used by Daesh [ISIS].”

“Several suicide cars and bombers are daily used by Daesh [ISIS] from Tabqa and surrounding fronts to Raqqa,” he told ARA News.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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