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Pentagon Expands Air Base in Northern Syria for Use in Battle for Raqqa

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidFighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria prepare themselves ahead of what they said was an offensive against Islamic State militants to take control of Tishrin dam, south of Kobani, Syria December 26, 2015
Fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria prepare themselves ahead of what they said was an offensive against Islamic State militants to take control of Tishrin dam, south of Kobani, Syria December 26, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The US military has expanded an air base near the city of Kobani, Syria, to assist in the fight to liberate Raqqa from the Daesh terrorist group.

The base is located about 90 miles north of Daesh's self-proclaimed Syrian capital of Raqqa. It gives the US an additional location from which to launch aircraft to support the efforts of anti-Daesh forces to retake the city. 

Col. John Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command, said that the importance of the Kobani base cannot be overestimated, as, just like the Qayyarah West Airfield used a staging base for operations in Mosul, it is "out of enemy range but close to the fight."

As the headquarters for US-led coalition operations to recapture Raqqa, it enables the delivery of essential supplies and equipment.

The airfield at Kobani was set up from scratch by the 621st Contingency Response Group, tasked with landing on austere airfields to prepare them to receive aircraft and forces. According to Senior Master Sgt. Chris Wright, when the unit first arrived in the area, there were only a few aircraft. Since then, "it's increased significantly," he said.

A general view shows a damaged classroom at a school after it was hit in an air strike in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on October 26, 2016. - Sputnik International
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A team of technicians, security forces and intelligence personnel was recently deployed to expand the base and improve the condition of the Kobani runway to make it able to receive larger aircraft.

According to US Central Command, the airstrip has been modified to support not only C-130 military cargo planes, which are able to land in most difficult environments, but also C-17s, which need a harder runway to support their weight, as well as other aircraft.

Another strategic airfield reportedly being repaired by American engineers is the one recently captured by Syrian Democratic Forces near Tabqa dam.    

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