SDF forces destroyed an ISIS car bomb in the Raqqa countryside. Photo: Raqqa Liberation/Facebook
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are just five kilometres away from the strategic Tabqa dam on the Euphrates, west of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.
Backed by coalition airstrikes, the SDF advanced Sunday morning and pushed ISIS out of the village of Eastern Ja’bar, “which puts them about 5 km away from the Euphrates Dam located on the Euphrates at al-Tabaqa city,” the conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The campaign to liberate Raqqa reported they had killed 38 ISIS militants and destroyed a car bomb in the Raqqa countryside on Sunday. The Observatory confirmed the deaths of at least 25 militants and said that the SDF had suffered casualties as well, but did not provide numbers.
Tabqa city, 40 kilometres west of Raqqa, is of strategic importance – it is home to both a major dam and a former airbase.
The Observatory stated that “leading figures” of ISIS live in the city, which also houses the militant group’s largest prison where key prisoners are being held.
In the summer, the Syrian army launched a campaign to retake control of Tabqa. They briefly entered Raqqa province for the first time since ISIS took over the area in August 2014. ISIS sent reinforcements to the area in June and drove the regime forces out of the province for a second time.
The SDF launched the second phase of their Wrath of Euphrates campaign to liberate Raqqa city from ISIS on December 10. The goal of this phase of the military offensive is to “fully liberate the western countryside of Raqqa as well as isolating the city,” the SDF stated.