During the period of darkness, March 21-22, the Syrian Democratic Forces, with their Syrian Arab Coalition fighters, launched a multi-pronged offensive behind enemy lines to liberate the Tabqah Dam in Syria from ISIS.
The offensive was led by the dedicated multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces and supported by the Coalition. A key element of the Coalition's strategy against ISIS is to work by, with, and through committed and capable local partner forces fighting to liberate their own people and lands.
The Coalition supported this offensive with air movement and logistical support, precision airstrikes, Apache helicopters in close air support, Marine artillery, and special operations advice and assistance to SDF leadership.
Over the last four months, the Coalition has conducted more than 300 airstrikes around Tabqah and near Raqqah that have killed hundreds of enemy fighters, destroyed more than 200 fortifications, and more than 50 ISIS vehicles.
"It takes a special breed of warrior to pull off an airborne operation or air assault behind enemy lines," said Col. Joe Scrocca "There is nothing easy about this - it takes audacity and courage. And the SDF has that in spades."
Seizing Tabqah Dam will isolate Raqqah from three sides and give the SDF the strategic advantage and launching point needed for the liberation of the city. The area is critical to ISIS's ability to import and harbor foreign fighters, export terror, and is ISIS's last link to territory west of the Euphrates.
Tabqah Dam has been used as an ISIS headquarters, a prison for high-profile hostages, a training location, and for external terror plotting since ISIS took control of the location in 2013.
"The SDF and their local Syrian Arab Coalition fighters, have proven to be the most effective ground force against ISIS in Syria - and they are proving that once again with this daring operation," said Scrocca.
Tabqah Dam is a key element of northern Syria's economy, agriculture and way of life, and its destruction by ISIS could lead to a severe humanitarian crisis. The Coalition will take every precaution to ensure the dam's integrity.
"It is the SDF on the ground, putting their lives at risk, and violently engaging the enemy," said Scrocca. "And it is the SDF, like the Iraqi Security Forces, who are making the sacrifice so that other Coalition nations do not continue to suffer the threat of ISIS terrorism inside our own borders."
The website Funker350.com added some more information and analysis to the official statement:
A combat operation that legends are made of just occurred under the cover of darkness on March 21-22 as US Special Operations troops and elite Kurdish special forces parachuted deep into deep into ISIS-held ground while other US-backed SDF troops made an amphibious assault that succeeded in retaking the Tabqa Dam from the Islamic State who were caught by surprise.DEATH FROM ABOVE!!!!!
Some of the following information is unconfirmed but comes from our trusted sources and will give a more in depth look at what happened beyond the “official” CJTF-OIR statement.
The airborne troops jumped from at least a half dozen rotary-wing aircraft into at least two different drop zones onto a peninsula west of Raqqa near Abu Asi. There are even rumors of a high altitude jump taking place. The Syrian democratic Forces (SDF) have proven to be the top indigenous fighting force in the region, without a doubt. Yet, a very very small population within the ranks of the SDF is airborne qualified, and there were indeed Kurdish troops on the jump. This means that the Kurdish Counter Terror Group (CTG) from northern Iraq was definitely there leading the way. It’s also possible, and even likely, that the CTG’s Syrian counterpart, the Syrian Kurdish Anti-Terror Forces Command (HAT) were also in on the Airborne operation, considering the high echelon of their training. The key strategic ground now held on the Western flank cuts off the main ISIS supply route flowing from Aleppo to Raqqa.
Meanwhile, a massive amphibious mission was underway. The SDF’s Kurdish YPG and Syrian Arab Coalition fighters led by Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) boarded Zodiac watercraft and whatever boats they could find, and made a more direct assault onto the dam itself, east of the airborne drop zone. The dam was being used as an ISIS headquarters, a prison for high value individuals, and a training camp. They were successful in taking the dam.
As the footholds across the Euphrates were confirmed, bridge boats were loaded with combat vehicles, supply trucks, and command and control vehicles, and they made their way for the beach heads to reinforce the initial shock troops who were carrying very little water, ammo, and supplies in order to stay highly mobile... Rest of article with diagrams and pictures.