US-backed Syria forces resume fighting near Tabqa dam

US-backed Syria forces resume fighting near Tabqa dam

SDF says Taqba Dam is not damaged and fighting will resume, but monitor casts doubt on whether engineers inspected site.


US-backed forces in Syria are resuming an offensive against ISIL fighters at a major hydroelectric dam, saying it is in no danger of collapsing amid conflicting claims over its integrity. 
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) offensive was briefly suspended on Monday, a day after a senior Syrian government official warned that the Tabqa Dam had been damaged by US-led air raids and cited an increasing risk of catastrophic flooding.
ISIL had also issued warnings that the dam could collapse "at any moment",  releasing pictures showing what it said was the structure's control room after it had been damaged by US air raids.
The SDF, an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, paused operations for four hours on Monday to allow engineers to inspect the dam, a major target in their campaign to encircle and capture ISIL's self-declared capital of Raqqa, located around 40km downstream on the Euphrates river to the east.
The SDF said engineers entered the dam and found no damage or "malfunction" at the dam.
But it remains unclear whether engineers accessed the site. 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor tracking developments in Syria's conflict via a network of contacts on the ground, denied the SDF's statement, according to news agencies. 
It said technicians inside ISIL-held Tabqa did not reach the dam during the ceasefire to reactivate its main power controls. There was no explanation given.
"If the dam had been breached, the United Nations was warning of a humanitarian disaster with thousands caught up in the flooding,"
"The SDF says there is no problem - the makeshift ceasefire is over and the battle for Raqqa a step closer."

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