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US-backed Fighters Pushing Toward IS-held Dam in North Syria

FILE - U.S.-backed fighters take position during fighting with the Islamic State group in the village of Laqtah, north of Raqqa, Syria, in this still from a video provided by the Hawar News Agency, Nov. 7, 2016.

A spokesman for a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led force in northern Syria says they are approaching a strategic dam controlled by the Islamic State group north of the country.

Talal Sillo of the Syria Democratic Forces said Tuesday that gunmen backed by U.S., French and British special forces have taken dozens of villages and farms in recent days and are now about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Euphrates Dam.

Members of SDF, which a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, have been on the offensive in Raqqa province since early November. The operation, which is backed by intense airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, aims to initially isolate and encircle IS's de-facto capital of Raqqa.

SDF has been the most effective ground force fighting IS extremists in Syria.