Syria Daily: Kurds-Led SDF Claims Capture of ISIS-Held Tabqa

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Members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, inspect the Tabqa dam on March 27, 2017, which has been recently partially recaptured, as part of their battle for the jihadists' stronghold in nearby Raqa. US-backed Syrian fighters paused their offensive on a key dam held by the Islamic State group to allow a technical team to enter the complex, a spokeswoman said. / AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN

The US-supported, Kurds-led Syrian Democratic Forces are claiming a significant advance in their campaign to remove the Islamic State from northern Syria.

The SDF said on Wednesday that it has full control of the town of Tabqa and its adjacent dam, the largest in Syria, after weeks of attacks.

Tabqa is about 40 km (25 miles) along the Euphrates River west of the city of Raqqa, ISIS’s central position in the country.

Backed by US airstrikes, weapons, and special forces, the SDF moved into part of Tabqa Dam in late March. Last week, they claimed much of Taqba city, gradually pushing ISIS into a few northern districts.

SDF spokesman Talal Silo said yesterday that the city had been captured “thanks to the sacrifices of the SDF’s heroes and with the full, unlimited support of the U.S.-led international coalition”.

The US envoy for the anti-ISIS campaign, Brett McGurk, tweeted:

Attention now turns to the offensive for Raqqa, held up for months amid political disputes around leadership and the involvement of the Kurdish militia YPG, the key faction in the SDF.

Turkey considers the YPG as part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has battled the Turkish security forces for more than 30 years and is considered a terrorist group by the US. Ankara has hoped that the Turkish-rebel Euphrates Shield Force could take over the leading role in the offensive.

But the US, after months of maneuvering between Ankara and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and its YPG militia, appears to be tilting towards the latter. This week the Trump Administration signalled its intentions with formal approval of the arms that have been given to the SDF since its formation in late 2015.

See Syria Daily, May 10: US Confirms Arming of Kurdish Militia YPG

The spokesman for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve assured on Wednesday, “Every single one of these weapons that will be provided to our partner forces will be accounted for and pointed at ISIS.”

But New York Times correspondent C.J. Chivers expressed skepticism:

Turkey: Obama “Holdovers” Rushed Trump Into Support of YPG

Expressing their anger over confirmation of the US arms supplies to the YPG — but avoiding a direct attack on Donald Trump — “multiple Turkish officials” said Obama Administration “holdovers” in the US Government rushed Trump into signature of the order.

The officials said the Obama-era staff feared that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visiting Washington next week, could convince Trump not to proceed.

The US President issued the order on Monday just before a high-level Turkish delegation — including the head of the military Gen. Hulusi Akar, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, and Chief Presidential Adviser Ibrahim Kalın — arrived at the White House.

The Turkish delegation repeatedly told senior US officials that the arming of the YPG would undermine Erdoğan’s first meeting with Trump, “following the Obama administration’s disastrous relations with Ankara”, according to the Turkish sources.

Erdoğan said on Wednesday that the fight against the Islamic State “should not be carried out using other terrorist groups”: “I want to believe that Turkey’s allies will side with us, not with terrorist organizations.”

TOP PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces moving into part of Tabqa Dam, late March 2017

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17 COMMENTS

  1. From one point of view, it’s a good sign for the Syrians that the US hasn’t got enough popular support among the Syrian sunni opposition for their agenda and are relying on the YPG despite the problems it causes Erdogan.

    From Bilal Abdul Kareem’s interview recently, after the Astana agreement, people are now identifying Turkey along with Iran and Russia as untrustworthy, so looks like Erdogan’s mask has slipped too.

    It remains to be seen what the US tells him when he meets Trump, and how Erdogan reacts. I reckon this US alliance with the YPG is going to run out of steam at some point, and so is Erdogan.

      • No man, not partition. What Leon Panetta said right at the beginning, that the important thing is that the regime survives. That the status quo continues. That Pax Americana, order in the Middle East, carries on as it has done since America’s first interventions – politically, diplomatically, economically and militarily in the Middle East in the 1950s.

        It’s not really something hard to understand, in the sense that that’s what’s going on behind the conflict and that, from the US point of view, what they want to do is contain and manage the situation and return it to how it was before.

        They were hardly frothing at the mouth to get rid of the Assads all these decades, from Henry Kissinger meeting with Daddy Assad to Hilary Clinton calling this one “a great reformer”.

        See, America’s long standing policy in Israel has been the two state solution. First the PLO came along all fire and brimstone but in the end made a deal *at Camp David in the US* to have a two state solution. Then Hamas came along, all fire and brimstone, and then in the end put out it’s manifesto recognizing Israels 1967 border. See how that works ? That’s called managing the situation and maintaining the status quo. That’s why Panetta said the important thing is the regime, and that’s why Obama said it will take decades to sort this out, because they may have to work for decades to get things back they way there were but they made their intentions quite clear right from the beginning.

        Unfortunately, as with both the Israel/ Palestine issue and Syria, what allows the US to keep managing the situation is the utter lack of comprehension and awareness by people of what’s going on, as these pages testify on a daily basis with the likes of K9 and others.

        • Russia (the bad cop) has always been the other key piece of that Pax Americana in the region, a few days ago Kissinger raised that point. If you really want to get rid of US´s influence you first have to eradicate the russians (the taliban understood that).

        • Panetta is only one voice, and not employed atm. Yup, US prefers stability, no war, etc. Lets do business. However, there is no love for the Assad regime in the US. The problem for the US is that there is even less love for the jihadis. So, not interested in letting the country fall to jihadis but want assad gone. So, who is left? No one from the looks of things. Thats why so little, or failed, involvement by the US. Only choice is partition, which is what I would argue the US agenda actually is. Because the only people in that region that don’t seem to hate the US, and attribute all kinds of godly powers and influence, are the kurds, israelis, possibly the jordanians, and thats about it.
          .
          And yes, managing the situation is far better than uncontrolled war.

        • ” from the US point of view, what they want to do is contain and manage the situation and return it to how it was before.”

          that is your damaged psyche, and more silly conspiracy theory. Blame yourselves for losing. You didn’t have much of a chance once Russia jumped in. Blame them. But you won’t. You’d rather come up with some far fetched US is the puppet master of the world theory. Your hatred of the US trumps your rational. You lost the war. The US actually helped you. Time to face up to it. How have those TOWs worked out for you? etc. But again, you’ll find some way to blame someone but yourselves, that is the Jihadi way.

  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/11/isils-western-fighters-flee-raqqa-us-backed-forces-close/
    Just had to respond to one line in the article: “Deir Ezzor is largely flat desert land, making it much easier to defend.” Is that right?! Try it a**hole, sitting in the open with Helo’s, A-10’s, F-18’s, B1’s, B52’s, drones, MRAP’s, fast moving technicals, etc. encroaching. Open terrain offers advantages only to forces with superior firepower that are more than willing to slug it out.

    • Desert terrain is ideal ambush territory – it favours those who are the most mobile (e.g. just take alook at the history of the Arab conquest – led from the Arabian peninsular by armies that featured alot of light cavalry) and as long as the attacker doesn’t remain in one place it can cancelled out the advantages of aerial support as the attacker can just disappear into the desert and then re-emerge again to launch another attack ad infinitum – furthermore it’s very difficult to hold such areas because supply routes can be quickly cut-off and units easily encircled, if done well it can be used to inflict a horrific attritional damage on units that are less mobile.

      • K9
        The desert is the worst terrain on the planet, except the arctic ice pack for “ambush”. You can see an enemy approach for miles. And you can see them run for mile. You can’t just “disappear”. Now, triple canopy jungle or rugged mountains, that’s a whole other story.

  3. #Damascus: 1) Ahrar grows again? “Liwa Fajr al-Umma join #AhrarAlSham in #EasternGhouta, effectively 5th most prominent group in area joins 4th most prominent” – badly_xeroxed
    .
    2) This is retarded, rebels in Ghouta in suicide mood “Looks like FSA Faylaq al-Rahman attacked positions under Ahrar al-Sham control in east Ghouta Damascus not clear why.” – NorthernStork
    .
    #Hassekeh: “YPG deserter has killed 5 #YPG fighters in Kherbet Shaeir village. After that #YPG killed 4 civilians in the same village.” – worldonalert
    .
    I wonder if some of the Arab units of the YPG have been infiltrated?

  4. #International: Interesting article –
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    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/world/middleeast/trump-arm-syrian-kurds-next-move-is-erdogans-turkey.html
    .
    But as I’ve said before Turkey is not going to be openly aggressive about the US’s policy towards the PKK/YPG as it’s a NATO member, Turkey will only risk being more forcefull with the US and more confrontational in Syria against the PKK/YPG after it has left NATO and that will ONLY happen after Turkey gets it’s own nukes. With Erdogan this possibility is not as remote as one would think, if Erdogan stays in office for another 10 years then mark my words not only will Turkey get it’s own nukes it will also hold a referendum on NATO membership.

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