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US-backed forces repel Islamic State attack near Syrian dam

US backed Syrian forces repelled a major counter-attack by Islamic State militants holding out at the country's largest dam and in the nearby town of Tabqa, the group and activists said on Sunday.
The dam is a key strategic target in the military campaign to isolate and capture the Syrian city of Raqqa, 40 km (25 miles) to the east and Islamic State's biggest urban stronghold.
The US-backed group said militants attacked their positions north-east of Tabqa and at an airbase to the south of the town where dozens of their fighters were killed; but the coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias was making slower advances in a village east of the town.
Jehan Sheikh Ahmad, a spokeswoman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, said the militants were stepping up their resistance as SDF forces got closer to encircling the town and the dam.
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