Before the sun came up on Wednesday, members of the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance were dropped off by U.S.-led coalition aircraft near a dam west of Raqqa, Syria, taking Islamic State fighters by surprise, the Pentagon said.
The area near the Tabqa dam is believed to be a base for foreign ISIS fighters, and ISIS is thought to plot international attacks there. In a statement, the SDF said fighters have seized four villages south of the Euphrates River and a highway that links Raqqa with Aleppo.
For the first time since December 2014, members of the 68-nation anti-ISIS coalition also met Wednesday in Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. policy is to "demolish and destroy" ISIS. He told attendees that they should be heartened by the fact that over the past year, the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS is down by 90 percent, and that since almost all of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputies are dead, it's "only a matter of time" before al-Baghdadi is killed, too.