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US envoy to anti-IS coalition visits Syria's Tabqa

Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the coalition bombing the Islamic State group, arrives for a meeting in the Syrian town of Tabqa, west of the IS stronghold city of Raqa, on June 29, 2017
Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the coalition bombing the Islamic State group, arrives for a meeting in the Syrian town of Tabqa, west of the IS stronghold city of Raqa, on June 29, 2017 AFP
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Tabqa (Syria) (AFP)

The White House envoy to the US-led coalition bombing the Islamic State group, Brett McGurk, met on Thursday with local officials in the northern Syrian town of Tabqa.

IS jihadists were ousted from Tabqa and an adjacent dam on May 10 by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces as part of the group's flagship offensive for Raqa city further east.

On Thursday, McGurk met with members of the Tabqa Civil Council, which is administering the town's day-to-day affairs.

McGurk was dressed in a crisp white shirt and was accompanied by deputy commander for the coalition, British Army Major General Rupert Jones, as well as other coalition officials and SDF members.

The visit came a day after McGurk met with members of the Raqa Civil Council, the body expected to run the northern city after IS's expected fall there.

The US-backed SDF has ousted IS from around a quarter of Raqa city. For now, the Raqa Civil Council is based in the town of Ain Issa to the north.

"The discussion centred on relief efforts," said SDF public relations chief Omar Alloush, who was present in the meeting with McGurk.

Alloush said McGurk pledged the coalition would continue their efforts to push IS out of Raqa and would support reconstruction efforts, including re-instating schools.

US officials, including McGurk and the head of Central Command Joseph Votel, have met with senior SDF commanders during several visits to northern Syria.

The coalition began carrying out air strikes on IS in Syria in September 2014.

Earlier this year, the alliance bombed pro-government forces for the first time in southeastern Syria.

The conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, but it has since evolved into a complex war drawing in international powers.

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