Syria Kurd-Arab alliance enters IS-held Tabqa airport

Military Times - U.S. -backed Syrian fighters reached a major dam held by the Islamic State group in northern Syria Friday as Syria's United Nations ambassador said hundreds of American personnel are "invading my country", insisting that any effort to liberate the city of Raqqa - the de facto capital of the Islamic State group - should be done in coordination with the Damascus government.

RBSS said ISIS later announced via loudspeaker that the dam was fine and requested residents remain in the city. The city, which is is the extremist group's operational command headquarters, is now largely surrounded - its main supply routes cut off by advancing forces.

It says the militants are warning residents that the dam is out of service, weakened by US -led coalition airstrikes, and could collapse.

"Full control of the airport is expected within the next few hours", Talal Sello, a spokesman for the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance, said.

"Today, one can say that Raqqa is encircled, that the battle for Raqqa will start in the coming days", Le Drian told local Cnews television, adding that liberating Raqqa was France's "major objective".

The Syrian National Coalition, which is taking part in peace talks in Geneva, said it was increasingly concerned about civilian casualties.

The UK-based watchdog group also said that 66 civilians have been killed in Raqqa city of the past five days.

Earlier in the day, Kurdish officials said the battle against Raqqa city will start early next month.

Ali said hundreds of people had already been trained at Ain Issa, north of Raqqa, to join the Raqqa police, which he described as a purely civilian force with no paramilitary role.

"This will be a very hard battle but essential".

"The Coalition seeks to preserve the integrity of the dam as a vital resource to the people of Syria".

The SOHR said Daesh militants had withdrawn from the airbase under heavy artillery fire and US-led coalition airstrikes.

The base is approximately 2.7 kilometres (less than two miles) south of the town of Tabqa, an important IS stronghold on the southern bank of the Euphrates River.

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

Colonel Joe Scrocca said: "It takes a special breed of warrior to pull off an airborne operation or air assault behind enemy lines".

"We'll see how long ISIS can stay, then we can say exactly what the situation is", says Abdulrahman. "They are still reacting to this maneuver".



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