A US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has captured a strategic air base from ISIL in northern Syria....
A US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has captured a strategic air base from ISIL in northern Syria in the first major victory for the group since the US airlifted the forces behind enemy lines last week. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they captured the Tabqa air base, 45km west of Raqqa, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group's de facto capital in Syria.
SDF forces were also battling for the nearby Tabqa dam, held by ISIL, which was forced out of service on Sunday after its power station was damaged. Earlier this week, US forces airlifted SDF fighters behind ISIL lines to allow them to launch the Tabqa assault, and on Friday the alliance reached one of the dam's entrances.
Syrian Democratic Forces
The Syrian Democratic Forces, commonly abbreviated as SDF or QSD, are a multi-ethnic and multi-religious alliance of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Turkmen, Circassian and Chechen militias in the Syrian Civil War.
The SDF is dominated in manpower and militarily led by the People's Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia. Founded in October 2015, the SDF states its mission as fighting to create a secular, democratic and federal Syria, along the lines of the Rojava Revolution in northern Syria. The updated December 2016 constitution of the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria names the SDF as its official defence force.
Did the coalition strikes hit the structure of the dam?
The director of the Syrian government's General Authority of Euphrates Dam that formerly operated the huge project blamed US air raids for disrupting internal control systems and putting the dam out of service, and warned of growing risks that could lead to flooding and future collapses.
Before the latest strikes by the Americans, the dam was working. Two days ago, the dam was functioning normally. There could be collapses or big failures that could lead to flooding.
Engineers employed by ISIL had restored power to the dam's gates and the structure was functioning normally. The dam had not been structurally damaged, to our best knowledge, and that it has not targeted the dam. There were no evacuations happening from Raqqa.