BEIRUT: US-backed fighters have advanced to the edge of a key militants-held town in northern Syria, a monitor said Saturday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arab-Kurdish alliance supported by US-led coalition air strikes and specialforces advisers, surrounded Tabqa in early April.
The town and nearby major dam are considered a key prize in a broader offensive for Raqa, the de facto Syrian capital of IS's self-proclaimed "caliphate", about 55 kilometres (34 miles) to the east.
SDF fighters "are now hundreds of metres (yards) from Tabqa", said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group.
The alliance was reported to have advanced overnight after driving the militants from two areas just southeast and southwest of the town.
"Heavy fighting is taking place in the vicinity of the two suburbs," Abdel Rahman said. "IS is trying to counter-attack." (APP)