The Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Sunday that they have taken another major dam on the Euphrates River in northern Syria, as they close on the Islamic State’s central position of Raqqa.
The SDF said they took the Baath Dam, renaming it Freedom Dam, 22 km (14 miles) upstream of Raqqa. A spokesman for the YPG militia, which leads the SDF, said fighters were combing nearby villages for mines.
The SDF completed the capture of Tabqa Dam, 40 km (25 miles) west of Raqqa, last month. The forces now hold Syria’s largest three dams, all on the Euphrates.
Supported by US airstrikes, special forces, and weapons, the SDF finally began a significant offensive towards Raqqa this spring after months of political wrangling. Turkey objects to the involvement of the YPG, believing it to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.
SDF spokesman Nouri Mahmoud said on Sunday that the operation to Raqqa will start in a few days.
More than 200,000 people have been displaced from fighting in the area, and hundreds killed, including by US airstrikes.
TOP PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces fighters north of Raqqa, February 3, 2017 (Rodi Said/Reuters)