US-Backed Syrian Democratic Forces Claim Capture of Strategic Al-Tabqa Airport From Islamic State

American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the strategic Al-Tabqa Airport from Islamic State fighters on March 26 amid an ongoing offensive against the organization in the Raqqa Province. The SDF is now within 30 miles of Raqqa city.

The SDF said that the capture of Al-Tabqa Airport and its surrounding village serves as a vital role in the third phase of its military offensive to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State.

Due to ongoing fighting in the area, including airstrikes and artillery bombardments, there has been increased risk of the nearby Al-Tabqa Dam collapsing, which could in turn trigger a large-scale water shortage crisis in the area. The US military shared aerial photos of the dam on March 26, reporting that the “Tabqah Dam has not been structurally damaged to our knowledge and the Coalition seeks to preserve the integrity of the dam as a vital resource to the people of Syria. The Coalition does not target the dam with strikes and when we strike military targets in the vicinity of the dam we do not use high explosive munitions so as not to cause unnecessary damage to the dam. The SDF has a robust plan in place to care for the dam post liberation from ISIS that will work through the resources of the United Nations and subject matter experts on dam engineering.”

However, others have reported that the dam had ceased to function at the time of writing. Storyful could not independently verify the current status of the infrastructure site’s operations. Credit: Syrian Democratic Forces via Storyful