TABQA, Syria (Kurdistan24) - The Syrian Kurdish-led alliance forces said on Thursday the US-backed operation to retake the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State (IS) is ongoing after they fully seized the town of Tabqa and Syria's largest dam few days earlier.
Senior commanders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) revealed details on Tabqa liberation in a statement released in the first press conference held in the town of Tabqa, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Raqqa.
"In the operation that was launched by the airdrop on March 21, our forces [SDF] advanced and entered the town from three sides, and then broke the line of defense, trapping the gangs [IS] inside the structure of the Euphrates Dam and surrounding villages," the statement said.
The statement further pointed out that the operation to retake Tabqa was not going as quickly as expected because IS insurgents used civilians as human shields.
"We [SDF] would also like to thank the International Coalition forces for their strong participation in the operation to liberate Tabqa," the statement read.
Regarding the liberated Tabqa Dam, the SDF commanders said, "The institution of the Dam of Euphrates is a national institution for Syria, and we announce that the institution will serve all of the Syrian territories."
After the liberation of Tabqa, the US administration authorized the arming of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a key component of the SDF, to capture the Islamic State’s (IS) de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Nisreen Abdalla, spokesperson of the Kurdish female fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPJ), said on Thursday their forces are to resume the battle towards Raqqa.
"Our forces have been fighting terrorism for three years along with the US-led coalition and by receiving the weaponry they will advance on Raqqa to ultimately take the city," she said.
Fearful of similar demands by Kurds at home, Turkey has repeatedly called on the US to cease backing the YPG and strongly opposes US support of the YPG, viewing it as the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turkey argues the YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK which has been waging a three-decade-long guerrilla warfare against Turkish troops for larger Kurdish rights.
Editing by Ava Homa