Members of Syrian Democratic Forces stand on a boat at the Lake Assad. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish-majority forces have announced they "fully liberated" Tabqa Dam on Wednesday from ISIS, a day after the US announced it would further its partnered forces in northern Syria.
"Syrian Democratic Forces have fully liberated Tabqah Dam. Security operations continue in the area," read a tweet from the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG).
YPG and Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) members dually comprise the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US-led international coalition has been supporting in the fight against ISIS.
AFP news agency reported it had spoken with SDF spokesperson Talal Silo, who said "his forces 'achieved victory and completely liberated Tabqa city and the dam.' Combing operations [are] ongoing."
The SDF later formally announced its celebrations after recapturing Tabqa in a tweet.
The declaration comes a day after the US Defense Department announced it had been authorized to further arm Kurdish fighters in northern Syria ahead of the offensive to retake Raqqa.
The Coalition had announced earlier on Wednesday that a few neighborhoods in Tabqa still contained ISIS resistance.
"SDF and [the] Syrian Arab Coalition have successfully liberated the vast majority of Tabqah and continue to clear the final two neighborhoods," wrote the Coalition’s spokesperson US Col. John Dorrian in a tweet.
Tabqa is strategic because of its dam between Lake Assad, which connects to the Euphrates River. An air field is also located south of the city, which the SDF took control on March 27.
The securing of Tabqa is seen as one of the final hurdles prior to commencing operations to retake ISIS’s de facto capital city of Raqqa.
Neighboring Turkey has objected to YPG’s participation in Raqqa operations.
“Turkey cannot imagine the US choosing between a strategic partnership with Turkey and a terrorist organisation,” said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday.
The US differs, and has repeatedly tried to reassure Ankara.
"We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey," said chief Pentagon spokesman Dana White on Tuesday. "We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally."