Syrian Democratic Forces fighters gesture while posing on a damaged airplane inside Tabqa military airport after taking control of it from ISIS fighters, west of Raqqa city, Syria April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said
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U.S.-backed forces fighting ISIS in Syria advanced to within 2 km (1 mile) of a key stronghold near the extremist group's de facto capital of Raqqa Tuesday, and a counterattack by the militants was repulsed, officials said.Officials have given different estimates for how long the campaign will take, and the assault on Raqqa itself appears to have been delayed, after one high-ranking military official said it would begin at the start of April.Forces have advanced on the city from the north, east and west. Encircling and capturing Tabqa is a major part of the campaign as the city and dam comprise a strategic base for ISIS.That assault appears already to have been delayed as ISIS resistance keeps forces busy around Tabqa.
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