Kurdish-Arab forces ‘almost completely’ capture Tabqah from IS

SDF fighters inside Tabqah on 1 May 2017. (Photo: ANHA)

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have “almost completely” captured northern Syria’s Tabqah city from the Islamic State (IS) group, a commander of the majority Kurdish-Arab force said.

Abdulqadir Hevdili told Hawar news agency that SDF fighters had liberated nine neighbourhoods from jihadist fighters in the past two days and that clashes continued in three small areas.

“We will give the people of Syria the good news very soon,” he said.

Another commander, Jako Zerkeh, told AFP that the battle in the small city had been “the toughest battle we’ve ever waged.”

Zerkeh added that the SDF had used new tactics, including the waterway supply line and an airlift behind enemy lines in late March, to kickstart the offensive.

“These were a huge surprise to them (IS) and shattered their morale… Dozens of Daesh fighters have surrendered. There were more surrenders here than any other town,” he told AFP.

Speaking to SDF Spokesperson Talal Silo, journalist Wladimir Van Wilgenburg tweeted that he had told him three neighbourhoods remained in the hands of extremist militants.

“We think today or tomorrow the neighbourhoods will be liberated, then only the Dam will be left,” Van Wilgenburg reported Silo saying.

Tabqah sits on a strategic supply line to the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, which has been taken over by the SDF.

Journalists on the ground reported seeing SDF fighters taking down IS flags and propaganda in several of Tabqah’s neighbourhoods.

Many IS militants have been captured in clashes say reports.

Images of thousands of civilians fleeing to SDF-held areas have been published on social media in the past week.