Syrian Kurds take largest dam, town from IS

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on Syria (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces say they have captured the country’s largest dam and a nearby town from the Islamic State group.

The fighters known as Syrian Democratic Forces, which are mostly Kurdish-led but also include Arab fighters, say they expelled IS militants from the Tabqa Dam and the nearby town, also called Tabqa, on Wednesday.

Tabqa is the latest IS stronghold to fall to the Kurdish-led opposition fighters as they advance toward the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa — the seat of the militants’ so-called caliphate along the Euphrates River.

The fall of Tabqa leaves no other major urban settlements on the road to Raqqa, about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, away.

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7:15 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he hopes the United States will reverse its decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters perceived as terrorists by Ankara.

Erdogan also called on the United States to stand alongside a NATO ally — Turkey — and reverse its decision on arming Syrian Kurds before his upcoming visit to Washington.

The Turkish president’s remarks on Wednesday came a day after the U.S. announced it would arm Syrian Kurdish fighters as a necessary step to recapture the Islamic State group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

Erdogan says the “fight against terrorism should not be lead with another terror organization” and that “we want to know that our allies will side with us and not with terror organizations.”

He spoke during a joint news conference with the visiting president of Sierra Leone. Erdogan said he would take up the issue during a planned meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on May 16.

Erdogan says: “I hope that they (U.S.) will turn away from this wrong.”

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5:15 p.m.

Turkey’s defense minister has described a U.S. decision to supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters as a “crisis” between the two NATO allies.

Fikri Isik also told private NTV television on Wednesday that Turkey has the power to defend its national interests in Syria, though he did not elaborate.

The United States announced on Tuesday that it would arm Syrian Kurdish fighters in a bid to recapture the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, despite Turkey’s opposition. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurds as an extension of Kurdish rebels in Turkey that have led a three-decade long insurgency against the authorities.

Isik says it’s out of the question for Turkey to support any operation involving the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

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5 p.m.

Syria’s al-Qaida branch has criticized an internationally brokered cease-fire deal for Syria, threatening to wage war against any rebel faction that tries to take advantage of the deal to try to dislodge it form its main stronghold.

The Levant Liberation Committee, which often fights alongside of rebels against Syrian pro-government forces, says the so-called “de-escalation” agreement signed between Russia, Turkey, and Iran earlier this month is a “betrayal” of Syria’s…

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