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US-backed forces battle Daesh around key Syria town

By AFP - Mar 28,2017 - Last updated at Mar 28,2017

TABAQA Dam, Syria — US-backed forces battled the Daesh terror group around a key Syrian town Monday, after the capture of an airbase brought them closer to besieging the extremists in their stronghold Raqa.

Backed by air power from the US-led coalition that has been bombing Daesh since 2014, the Syrian Democratic Forces are laying the groundwork for an assault on the heart of the extremists' so-called "caliphate".

Operations are currently focused on the strategically important town of Tabaqa on the Euphrates River, and the adjacent dam and military airport.

Late Sunday, Arab and Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democrate Forces (SDF) seized Tabaqa airbase and pressed north towards the town itself.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, said the alliance was fighting north of the airport to reinforce its positions.

"The SDF could bring supplies to the airport in the coming days and use it as a launching point for additional military operations," he added, reporting "heavy strikes" in the area.

SDF spokesman Talal Sello said the alliance would "begin rehabilitating the airport after clearing out explosive devices" left behind by Daesh and said the base's main landing strip was seriously damaged.

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