Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Backed militia recovers Tabqa from IS

Backed militia recovers Tabqa from IS

The SDF accepted the IS surrender in order "to protect innocent civilians" and to preserve the Tabqa Dam infrastructure, which hundreds of thousands of Syrians rely on for water, agriculture, and electricity, Central Command said. White said they're "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future". Concerns were raised earlier this year that the dam could be damaged in the fighting or degraded by lack of maintenance, or that the extremists might sabotage it to flood the surrounding areas.

The capture of Tabqa sets the stage for an advance on Raqqa, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the east.

Coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian said the recapture of Tabqah is "yet another victory" for the Kurdish-led forces, the U.S.'s most effective partner on the ground fighting ISIS in Syria. American officials have complained bitterly to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, about the airstrikes, which have targeted the principal USA partner in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State.

Since then, Turkey is believed to have positioned more than 5,000 troops in northern Syria, and has escalated its airstrikes and cross border artillery attacks against the Kurdish forces. "We want to know that our allies will side with us and not with terror organizations", he said.

He called on Turkey to let go of its "unjustified" fears of the group.

Erdogan has demanded that Washington undo the arms decision, and said he would take up the issue with Trump.

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The Syrian Kurdish YPG forces are cheering yesterday's announcement that the United States will be directly providing them with more advanced heavy weaponry, saying the decision had come "somewhat late" but promising that it would bring "positive, big, and fast results".

A spokesman for the USA -led coalition against ISIS said Wednesday that America would distribute small arms and equipment to Syrian Kurds "very quickly".

It considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

The presence of Syrian Kurdish fighters on the battlefield could complicate the mission.

In a May 10 statement, the YPG militia described the us decision as "historic" and said it was a "sign of confidence" in the group.

Erdogan's charge on the United States follows this week approval by President Trump to provide the Syrian militia group with additional arms as the group pushes edges on Deach in a move to take the terrorist group's stronghold of Raqqa.

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The officials didn't say whether the Kurds will receive heavier weapons, including anti-tank missiles and armored vehicles.

The Coalition stated that retaking the hydroelectric dam "prevented a potential humanitarian disaster, and esnured local citizens will continue to receive the dam's basic services".

The Raqqa campaign appeared to have stalled around Tabqa, where the SDF made only slow progress after besieging the town.

Two U.S. defense officials tell NBC News that President Donald Trump has approved a plan to arm the Syrian Kurdish militia - an important U.S. ally in Syria in the fight against ISIS.

In the meantime, Turkey's defense minister declared that the move to arm the Kurds is a "crisis", adding to the statement from the Turkish deputy prime minister that the decision is "unacceptable".

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