Tabqa dam at risk of collapse, Islamic State warns

Tabqa dam at risk of collapse, Islamic State warns”

Fighting at a dam in Syria held by the Islamic State group has put the water barrier at risk of a catastrophic collapse, a technical source said.

Earlier this week, USA forces airlifted SDF fighters behind IS lines to allow them to launch the Tabqa assault, and on Friday the alliance reached one of the dam's entrances.

SDF spokesperson Silo denied that coalition strikes hit the structure of the dam and said the air drop landing last week was conducted to prevent any damage to the main structure by engaging the militants away from the dam.

The armed units of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) pushed Sunday the militants of the Islamic State (Daesh) terrorist group out of the military airport, located near the Syrian city of Tabqa, Lebanese Al Mayadeen broadcaster reported, citing its source.

There are also reports that the USA -led coalition may plan to use the base to provide supplies for SDF units in the upcoming battle of Raqqa.

It said more than 300 airstrikes around Tabqa and Raqqa have taken place over the past four months, killing hundreds of enemy fighters and destroying more than 200 buildings and 50 ISIS vehicles.

The US has provided substantial air and ground support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who are closing in on Raqqa.

SDF forces were helicoptered behind IS lines last week by U.S. forces to begin their assault on the dam, which is about 55 km west of Raqqa.

But as the battle to retake the first city fully captured by ISIS nears, the group appears unfazed toward the population under its control and its wider support base, an attitude which has characterized its response to a series of battlefield defeats across Iraq and Syria.

US-backed forces battled the Islamic State group around a key Syrian town on Monday (Mar 27), after the capture of an airbase brought them closer to besieging the militants in their stronghold Raqa.

The offensive has opened up a new front in the campaign to recapture Raqqa, which ISIS branded the capital of its so-called "caliphate" in 2014.

IS issued warnings through its propaganda agency Amaq that the dam "is threatened with collapse at any moment because of American strikes and a large rise in water levels".

With the help of coalition air strikes and USA special forces on the ground, the SDF launched an operation late previous year to isolate Raqqa and has surrounded the city in a large pocket of land backing onto the river.

United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura hosted Mr al-Ja'afari at United Nations offices in Geneva for the talks set to take place over at least several days around issues of governance, elections, a new constitution and the fight against terrorism.

The coalition-backed fighters, which carried out heavy shelling with aerial cover provided by warplanes, made advances, the observatory said.

But the coalition said it had "no indication that an airstrike struck civilians near Raqqa".

Turkey, a longstanding USA ally in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, strongly opposes the Kurdish role because Ankara considers the main Kurdish fighting force, known as YPG, a terrorist organization.

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