* US GDP and initial claims data could push dollar higher * Dollar rises vs yen as Syria tension eases * Emerging FX relief seen supporting case for Fed taper By Anooja Debnath LONDON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The dollar rose broadly on Thursday as some investors positioned for strong U.S. data and tensions surrounding Syria eased slightly, helping to push U.S. Treasury yields higher. Strategists said encouraging U.S. growth and jobless claims data would reaffirm expectations the Federal Reserve will scale back its stimulus in coming months. Market sentiment was still cautious, but prospects of an imminent Western attack on Syria weakened, given opposition in Britain and among U.S. lawmakers. U.S. Treasury yields, which fell in recent days as investors sought refuge in low-risk government debt, rose, increasing the dollar's appeal. The dollar was up 0.5 percent against a basket of currencies at 81.850. Against the safe-haven yen it was up 0.6 percent at 98.17 yen, recovering from Wednesday's trough of 96.81 yen, which was its lowest since August 12. "The dollar has been supported mainly due to expectations that the U.S. GDP figures will be better than the previous release," said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX research at Commerzbank. "Part of the reason is Syria and emerging market events but it is more about the U.S. data right now." Some said reduced tension in emerging markets also supported the U.S. currency as it reinforced bets the Fed would taper monetary stimulus soon. "A slight easing of the tensions in Syria and emerging markets, has helped the dollar," said Simon Derrick head of currency research at Bank of New York Mellon. "Over the last few weeks tensions in emerging markets were seen as keeping pressure on the Fed to delay tapering which is dollar negative. With emerging markets now doing a little better, the dollar is higher." Analysts at Morgan Stanley expect the dollar to regain support against major currencies "as risk aversion eases, allowing some stabilisation in risky asset markets and potentially providing some relief to emerging currencies." First hit by outflows of funds as investors braced for an eventual end of Fed stimulus, emerging market pain had been exacerbated as the crisis in Syria made investors even more risk-averse. Against the buoyant dollar, the euro was down 0.6 percent at $1.3259. While a debt auction in Italy was relatively successful, borrowing costs for a new five-year bond rose as investors remained wary over the coalition government's stability, which weighed on the euro. The euro's recent resilience is likely running out of steam, according to the options market.