News / Middle East

    Kurdish Forces Battle IS to Keep Control of Strategic Syrian Dam

    Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG), who are fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces, are seen at the eastern entrance of the Tishrin Dam, after they captured it from Islamic State militants, south of Kobani, Syria, Dec. 27, 2015.
    Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG), who are fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces, are seen at the eastern entrance of the Tishrin Dam, after they captured it from Islamic State militants, south of Kobani, Syria, Dec. 27, 2015.

    Nearly two weeks after regaining control of a strategic dam in northern Syria, Kurdish-led forces are struggling with continued blitzes from Islamic State militants who want to retake the area.

    The fighting centers on the 900-meter-long Tishrin Dam, held by IS for more than a year until Kurdish and coalition forces retook it in December. It supplies electricity to much of northern Syria.

    On Thursday, a group of IS fighters attempted to infiltrate the nearby Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa. But local forces were able to thwart the plan, according to reports.

    Another group of IS fighters entered the town of Sarrin, not far from Tishrin Dam, crossing from the western side of the Euphrates River. Fierce clashes erupted between them and the YPG Kurdish forces.  

    “Daesh [IS] wants to retake Tishrin Dam for strategic and symbolic reasons at the same time,” said Shervan Derwish, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.

    IS pressure

    With inclement weather in the region, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on IS positions have slowed. This has allowed IS to reorganize its forces in order to make advances, Kurdish commanders said.

    “They take advantage of weather conditions to wage constant attacks on our forces there,” Derwish told VOA.

    A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces takes a position atop Mount Annan overlooking the Tishrin Dam, after they captured it from Islamic State militants, south of Kobani, Syria, Dec. 27, 2015.
    A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces takes a position atop Mount Annan overlooking the Tishrin Dam, after they captured it from Islamic State militants, south of Kobani, Syria, Dec. 27, 2015.

    He said IS had brought additional fighters from Damascus and Homs to participate in the operations against Kurdish forces and their allies.

    In the recent battles with Kurdish forces, IS has used tanks and heavy weapons.

    The latest advances made by SDF near Tishrin and other areas south of Kobani have placed more pressure on IS militants, who are having difficulty moving from areas in eastern Syria to the parts they control in Aleppo and elsewhere.

    “Tishrin Dam is now no longer in their [IS] hands, so they have to go all the way around,” said Brett McGurk, U.S. special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, during a recent briefing at the State Department.

    Coalition forces

    U.S.-led coalition forces and their local partners on the ground are working on pushing IS militants back to Raqqa, the de facto capital of their self-styled caliphate in Syria, officials said.

    “We’re going to continue to isolate and constrict [IS] in Raqqa,” McGurk said.

    Turkish officials, however, continue to express concerns about Kurdish advances in northern Syria. Military leaders in Ankara this week told U.S. General Joseph Dunford that Syrian Kurdish forces were attempting to create a “Kurdish corridor” in Syria’s north, according to Turkish news reports.

    Dunford was in Turkey to meet with Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and to visit U.S. troops who are stationed at Incirlik Air Base.

    Turkey considers Kurdish forces in Syria as part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and Washington see as a terrorist group.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Azad Dewani from: United Kingdom
    January 11, 2016 10:27 AM
    Well-written summary! To succeed in isolating ISIL and other Jihadist groups and to contain their threat against Europe and other parts of the world, NATO should support sealing the Syrian-Turkish border by the Syrian Democratic Forces led by YPG. NATO members also need to warn Turkey to stop its support of Jihadists against Kurds.

    To seal the border area in the north of Syria by the Kurdish-Arab-Christian secular and pro-democracy forces is a step forward for the advantage of democratic change in Syria without both Al-Assad regime and Jihadist Islamist groups. Otherwise, the Syrian crisis will become a European security crisis as the Islamist government of Turkey kept supporting Jihadists.

    by: dutchnational
    January 08, 2016 1:35 AM
    The turkish stance is yet another proof of the Turkish desire to protect and aid its IS allies. Any gainst by the SDF against IS is attacked by Turkey, whereever.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora