IS conflict: Raqqa warning over 'risk to Tabqa dam'

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The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fully captured the Tabqa airport west of the northern city of Raqqa on Sunday, following battles with the Islamic State (IS) group, the SDF spokesman told Xinhua.

The fighters are continuing to advance towards the city of Raqqa itself, but civilian rights groups have expressed concerns for people still living in the area.

Sunday fighting between SDF units and Daesh militants inflicted damage to the Tabqa Dam located on the Euphrates river and aimed at holding back the water on the Lake Assad which is the state's biggest reservoir.

Backed by coalition warplanes, the fighters "took control of wide parts of the airport and cut the road between Salamia and Tabqa", SOHR said.

As for Mosul, Le Drian said the city would be completely liberated "in the coming weeks".

The Syrian National Coalition said in a statement that it was "increasingly concerned" about civilian casualties in the campaign against the extremist group.

"To that end, the Coalition continues to prosecute a military campaign against legitimate military targets in support of our partners in Iraq and Syria".

The worldwide coalition battling the Islamic State group will begin a final push on the militants' Syrian stronghold Raqa in the coming days, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

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The U.S. has deployed more than 700 advisers, Marines and Rangers to Syria to support fighters battling Islamic State. The SDF is battling ISIS in the village of Karama, 10 miles east of Raqqa, and remains stationed at the Al-Baleikh Bridge, northeast of Raqqa, according to Abdulrahman.

The latest round of UN-backed Syria peace talks entered a second day in Geneva on Friday but there was little hope of a breakthrough in negotiations that have yielded little in previous rounds.

De Mistura also urged Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantors of the upcoming talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana, to "retake the situation in hand" amid a recent escalation of fighting on the ground.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on March 24 said Raqqa was "surrounded" and that the "battle will begin in the coming days".

It said more than 300 airstrikes around Tabqa and Raqqa have taken place over the past four months, killing hundreds of enemy fighters and destroying more than 200 buildings and 50 ISIS vehicles.

In France, the country's defense minister said the campaign by global forces to take back IS' de facto capital will start in the coming days.

Some 700 USA military advisers, Marines, and Rangers have entered Syria to support fighters battling IS militants.

"It will be a very hard battle, but a battle that is going to be of utmost importance".