WASHINGTON, May 12, 2017 —
Partnered forces in Syria have liberated the Syrian city of Tabqa, a key development in the eventual defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Raqqa, Syria, the Pentagon's director of press operations said today.
The Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian Arab Coalition liberated Tabqa, which is southwest of Raqqa, Syria, as well as the Tabqa Dam and a nearby airfield May 10, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today at the Pentagon.
"The multi-ethnic SDF forced the surrender of Tabqa Dam and the remainder of Tabqa city, continuing the trend of ISIS's diminished control of territory and people," Davis said.
Putting Pressure on ISIS
The SDF's increased pressure on ISIS from each flank allowed the partnered forces to accelerate the pace of the fight, clear the final neighborhoods of Tabqa and isolate the dam, he said.
"The SDF now has further isolated ISIS in Raqqa, which is the group's stronghold, and will continue to pursue the military defeat of ISIS throughout Syria," he said.
About 70 ISIS fighters conceded to SDF terms for Tabqa, which included dismantling improvised explosive devices around the dam, surrendering all heavy weapons and forcing the withdraw of all remaining fighters from the city, according to Davis.
"The SDF accepted ISIS's surrender of the city to protect innocent civilians and to protect the Tabqa Dam infrastructure, which hundreds of thousands of Syrians rely on for water, agriculture and electricity," he said.
Davis added, "The coalition tracked fleeing fighters and targeted those that could be safely hit without harming civilians."
Raqqa is nearly isolated, Davis said, noting the bridges that cross the Euphrates River have been disabled. An ISIS-controlled dam farther up river is essentially the terrorists' only way across the river, he explained.
"They are now pinched from the north, the east and the west otherwise, as well as just [from] the natural geography of the river," he said.
Coalition strikes in Syria continue, he said, noting strikes yesterday around Abu Kamal, Raqqa and Tabqa.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)