Five Kurdish YPG fighters killed in clashes with Islamic State in Tabqah

YPG fighters on the outskirts of Tabqah city, northern Syria, 5 April 2017.

The Kurdish Protection Units (YPG) has released a statement on its website saying it has lost five fighters in clashes with the Islamic State (IS) group in Tabqah, northern Syria.

The fighters were killed during “intense clashes” in Safsafah village to the east of Tabqah city as IS militants used civilians as human shields the statement read.

The group also claimed that at least 50 jihadist militants had been killed in the clashes.

Images showing the YPG destroying an explosive-laden vehicle was shared on social media alongside photos from clashes.

The YPG is a leading component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which declared it had completely encircled Tabqah on Thursday.

The city and its adjoining dam need to be taken before the SDF launches a final onslaught on the jihadist group’s last stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, 55km to the east of Tabqah.