May 2 (UPI) -- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the Syrian Democratic Forces militia is close to fully capturing the city of al-Tabqah from the Islamic State as its offensive to free Raqqa escalates.
The SOHR on Monday said the SDF and U.S. Special Forces control about 80 percent of al-Tabqah. The monitor said local mediators are working to negotiate an agreement to secure a passage for remaining Islamic State militants to travel to Raqqa to fully withdraw from al-Tabqah.
The SDF, with the help of the U.S.-led international coalition, said it captured six al-Tabqah districts on Saturday and another three on Sunday from the control of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS and Daesh.
"In the last 48 hours, the ISIS defense lines have been destroyed, and [we] were able to liberate nine districts," SDF Cmdr. Abdulqadir Hafidli said on Monday.
Hafidli said Islamic State militants have established strong defenses in the last three districts of al-Tabqah and at the Euphrates Dam.
The SDF seeks to surround and isolate Raqqa before launching an offensive to recapture the city, similar to what Iraqi security forces did in their offensive on Mosul.