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Euphrates Dam ‘Out Of Service,’ Kurds at ISIS Airport | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) takes position near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20 km north of Raqqa on February 8, 2017. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN

Beirut, London- As ISIS confused Raqqa residents on Sunday, warning them from the near collapse of the Tabqa Dam, a Kurdish official from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) asserted his forces have entered the Tabqa military airport, expecting to control it in the next few hours.

The ISIS warning about the collapse of the Tabqa Dam, before shifting its position, matched with what a technical source told AFP on Sunday.

The source said that fighting at the dam held by ISIS in northern Syria put it out of service, risking dangerous rising water levels.

On Sunday morning, ISIS used loudspeakers to call on residents to leave Raqqa, warning that the dam was at risk of collapse.

Thousands of residents left the city to the suburbs. But, later, the militants’ police force cars, known as the Hasba, circulated in the streets of the city calling on people not to leave. “The dangers on the dam’s collapse had disappeared,” they said.

ISIS then erected military checkpoints in northern Raqqa to prevent residents from leaving the city.

Meanwhile, US-led SDF forces controlled on Sunday 70 to 80 percent of the military airport located near the Tabqa city on the Euphrates River, spokesperson of the SDF Talal Silo said.

However, Silo said SDF forces were still engaged in intense clashes with ISIS militants inside the airbase and on its outskirts.

He expected SDF forces to control the airport in the next few hours.

Abu Mohammad al-Raqqawi, activist in the “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently” told Asharq Al-Awsat that SDF forces were very close to the Tabqa military airport located in the southwest of Raqqa.

“We are about to oust ISIS from the airport base,” he said, adding that SDF forces were now 3 kilometers away from the northern part of the dam.

Syrian military expert Abdul Nasser al-Ayed told Asharq Al-Awsat that the terrorist organization might be using its warning to turn the 500-km area, located on the banks of the Euphrates River in the direction of the Iraqi borders, into an immense wetland to avoid a military operation there and to create a refugee crisis amid the presence of 3 million Syrian inhabitants.

“ISIS will not think about those people if its presence is threatened. The organization thinks of means to protect itself at the military level,” al-Ayed said.