Syrian Democratic Forces capture 6 neighbourhoods from IS in Tabqah

An SDF fighter in Tabqah plays with children, 29 April 2017.

The Kurdish-Arab majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured six neighbourhoods from the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group.

Clashes intensified yesterday night in the center of Tabqah, a small city 55km west of Raqqa in northern Syria.

According to local Hawar news agency, the neighbourhoods of Al-Mehaci, Al-Buserab, Abu Esh, Keniseya Asuriyan, Al-Kesara and Al-Mishir were captured by SDF fighters.

14 IS militants were killed in clashes, which are continuing in several areas, reports said.

Commentators have said the US-backed SDF will need to capture Tabqah before a final push on IS-stronghold Raqqa.

Although smaller in size and with less IS fighters embedded in the city, Tabqah has the largest dam in the region, which is still partly under the control of the jihadist group and under threat of being damaged.

Thousands of refugees escaping the IS group have reached SDF controlled areas in Tabqah.