Syrian Kurdish forces to push on IS capital this summer


A United States defense official told AFP earlier this week that the equipment would include small arms, ammunition, machineguns, armored vehicles and bulldozers.

Erdogan, who is to meet with Trump during a visit May 16 to Washington, is expected to express his anger at the USA president's decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria in preparation for an attack on Raqqa, the Syrian city serving as the capital of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The US military command in the Middle East, Centcom, confirmed the "liberation" of Tabaqa.

Coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian said the capture of Tabqa is "yet another victory" for the Kurdish-led forces, the U.S.'s most effective partner on the ground in Syria fighting IS.

The city was cut off from food and water supply as the SDF moved in.

Daesh's defeat in Tabqa marks a major milestone for the coalition's effort to encircle Daesh's de facto Syrian capital, Raqqah, ahead of a planned attack on the city.

The SDF fight for Raqqa - dubbed Operation Wrath of the Euphrates - has already seen the alliance capture large swathes of the surrounding province with help from the US-led coalition bombing IS in Iraq and Syria.

The battle for Tabqa was marked by fears that the dam would be severely damaged and collapse, leading to massive flooding downstream.

Among its fighters is British woman Kimmie Taylor, who told The Independent she was bracing for a "bloodbath" in Raqqa while preparing for the offensive earlier this year.

The body of an alleged IS fighter was seen today floating in the artificial reservoir created by the dam.

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The Turkish Government considers the YPG to be an integral part of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which both the USA and Turkey designate a terrorist organization.

YPG video footage on Thursday showed half a dozen fighters and youths dancing in Tabaqa, and children calling out excitedly: "The dam has been liberated".

The campaign to recapture Raqqa, which has been in ISIL's control since 2013, appears to be accelerating following a decision by the Trump administration to arm the Kurdish-led forces with heavy weapons. Here is an ally, for 60 years now - even before North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG], seen by the U.S. as an indispensable ally in the fight against IS but considered a "terrorist group" by Turkey.

A spokesman for the US -led coalition against IS, Col. John Dorrian, said Wednesday that the weapons would be delivered to the Kurds soon.

The Pentagon has refused to acknowledge all but a handful of these killings-it recently raised its absurdly low estimate to 352-while the U.S. media, which has churned out endless war propaganda over Syrian civilians killed in attacks by government forces and their Russian allies, has virtually ignored the bloodbath inflicted by Washington's air war.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's country considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast for three decades.

"We are very mindful of the Turkish concerns on this", Davis said.

But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim last week in London, after the arming decision had been announced, described it as final.

No newly authorised aid had been delivered yet, Hassan said, but he added that "I believe this support will arrive soon". Secondly, they say that if they do not cooperate with the YPG, the group may shift direction to become a Russian ally.