The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have reached the entrance to the Tabqa dam where they are clashing with ISIS, Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, the SDF’s spokeswoman for the campaign to drive the extremist group from Raqqa, said on Friday.
The US-led coalition against ISIS air-dropped SDF fighters near Tabqa late on Tuesday on the southern side of the Euphrates, and other militia fighters were already present on the river’s northern bank.
Al Arabiya’s sources also revealed that US and French forces have reached the Euphrates dam.
The dam, the biggest on the Euphrates, stretches 4km across the river to the southern bank and provides one of the few land crossings remaining after the destruction of many bridges during the conflict.
Tabqa is about 40 km (25 miles) west of Raqqa, which ISIS has used for years as one of its main bases of operations, including to plan and direct attacks overseas, and which sits along the northern bank of the Euphrates.
With the help of coalition air strikes and US special forces on the ground, the SDF launched an operation late last year to isolate Raqqa and has surrounded the city in a large pocket of land backing onto the river.
Late on Tuesday, the US coalition air dropped SDF forces onto the southern bank of the Euphrates west of Tabqa, part of their preparations for an assault on the dam and a nearby town and airbase of the same name.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister of France, which is a member of the US-led coalition, said on Friday that the battle to recapture Raqqa was likely to being in the coming days.