Kurdish-led Syrian forces close in on IS-held Tabqa: media

A female SDF fighter in on the outskirts of Tabqa city centre, 24 April 2017.

Local media sources in Syria have reported that the Kurdish-Arab majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are nearing complete capture of the Islamic State (IS) held city of Tabqa in northern Syria.

72 IS militants killed

According to Kurdish Hawar news agency, 72 jihadist militants have been killed since Sunday, when the group launched attacks on 10 SDF positions.

Concurrent attacks were launched in the early hours of Sunday on villages in the south and east of Tabqa as the SDF continues to advance to the centre of the small city, local sources reported.

24 militants were killed in the vicinity of the Tabqa Airport and Icel village to the southeast of Tabqa while 10 died in clashes in villages to the east of the city, reports said.

SDF have progressed 1km on the eastern and 800m on the western front.

7 coalition airstrikes

Two SDF fighters were also killed in clashes and four wounded. The US-led anti-IS coalition, which is backing the SDF, conducted seven airstrikes in the area.

The operation to take Tabqa, which is 55km to the west of IS stronghold Raqqa, began on 21 March and has lasted longer than expected. Clashes to capture the dam in Tabqa were stopped earlier in month after reports of damage to the structure.

According to the SDF, the group has cut all highways used by the jihadist group between Raqqa and other cities and completely isolated what is thought to be thousands of fighters.

Tens of thousands of people have fled from the outlying areas of Tabqa and Raqqa to areas held by the SDF.