In a key setback for ISIL Syrian free units and the Kurds have retaken Tabqa and its dam, opening the road to the final assault on Raqqa.
The black flag of Islamic State no longer flies over Tabqa dam in Syria.
The installation and nearby town have fallen to units of YPG and YPJ Kurdish militias this week in a major reverse for the Islamic extremists. Next stop on the now-open road is Raqqa, ISIL’s capital and last major stronghold in Syria.
Syrian Free army and Kurdish forces will spearhead the assault on the city, but they are awaiting the supply of US weapons, which the US only authorised for the Kurds on Thursday, in a major policy change that infuriated the Turks.
Until the weapons arrive, no-one is heading for Raqqa.
“I think by the start of this summer the offensive to liberate the city will begin,” said one rebel commander. The fighting has pushed some 25,000 people from their homes in Tabqa and there are fears more could take to the road as allied forces begin encircling Raqqa. Civilians in ISIL-held areas are being leafleted asking them to stay indoors and “organise themselves so they can protect their areas and the city themselves”.