US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces captured a strategically important air base from ISIS militants in north Syria on Sunday in the first major victory for the group since the US airlifted the forces behind enemy lines four days ago.
“The bombardment forced a large number of ISIS militants to evacuate their posts inside the airbase,” SDF officer Habun Osman told ARA News.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces announced they had captured the Tabqa air base, 28 miles west of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital in Syria. The U.S., which has provided substantial air and ground support to the SDF, ferried hundreds of SDF forces, as well as U.S. military advisers and U.S. artillery, behind IS lines earlier this week.
“The clashes are still ongoing, but soon the airbase will be fully liberated from ISIS terrorists,” Osman said.
Tabqa airbase was captured by ISIS militants from the Syrian government in August 2014. Shortly afterwards, the group announced it had killed about 200 government soldiers at the base, in a mass killing recorded and distributed on video over social media. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also reported the SDF advance.