US-Backed Syrian Kurds Expand Anti-ISIS Push, Targeting Tabqa

Fall of Tabqa Would Cut ISIS Capital Off From Aleppo Holdings

by Jason Ditz, May 30, 2016

A major Kurdish offensive in the northern Raqqa Province of Syria, aiming to claim part of the ISIS territory in the area, has been expanded today, with forces now moving against the town of Tabqa and the neighboring air base.

Tabqa Air Base has been under ISIS control since August of 2014, after a bloody offensive which killed many hundreds of troops on both sides, eliminating one of the major bases from which Syria could launch airstrikes against the nation’s east.

The empty air base isn’t the target this time, but rather the roads going through the area, as Tabqa is the primary link between the ISIS capital of Raqqa and its major territorial possessions in the Aleppo Province. A Kurdish win in the area would split ISIS forces off from one another.

The offensive is a tricky one, however, with the Kurdish YPG advance from Ayn Issa, meaning they have to cross the Euphrates River to reach Tabqa. That’s likely to spark another battle with Turkey, which has repeatedly warned the Kurds not to try to cross the river under any circumstances.

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