This file photo taken on April 30, 2017 shows a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, removing an ISIS flag in the town of Tabqa. / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN
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U.S.-backed fighters hunted for extremist holdouts in Syria's Tabqa Thursday after overrunning the city and nearby dam in a step forward for their advance on ISIS stronghold Raqqa.The Syrian Democratic Forces scored one of their biggest victories against ISIS as controversy intensified over a U.S. decision to arm the alliance's Kurdish component.Situated on the Euphrates River about 55 kilometers (35 miles) upstream from Raqqa, Tabqa is a key waypost in the operation to capture the extremists' de facto Syrian capital.Operation Wrath of the Euphrates has seen the SDF capture large swathes of territory north of Raqqa and at their closest point its fighters are just eight kilometers (five miles) from the city. The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), seen by the U.S. as an indispensable ally in the fight against ISIS but considered a "terrorist group" by Turkey.
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