ISIS supply route under threat

2015-06-15 20:32


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Beirut/Mosul - Syrian Kurdish forces on Monday fought their way into a key border town that provides the Islamic State (ISIS) with one of its main supply routes from Turkey.

Syrian Kurdish official Idriss Nassan said the People's Protection Units (YPG) had entered the eastern districts of Tel Abyad, the closest link between the jihadist group's Syrian stronghold of al-Raqqa and the porous Turkish border.

"The aim of the fighters is to cut the supply route of the Islamic State and by taking Tel Abbyad we will be able to cut supply route and we have already closed in on them," Nassan said.

The Hawar news agency, which is close to Syrian Kurdish authorities, said that YPG forces moving east from the Kobane enclave had joined up with forces moving west from the main Kurdish area in north-eastern Syria, south of the border town.

The road between Tel Abyad and al-Raqqa was under YPG control, it said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that YPG forces backed by allied Syrian rebels had advanced on the eastern edge of the town since Sunday night, with the backing of US-led airstrikes.

Islamic State is reported to bring in foreign fighters and supplies across the stretches of the Turkish border adjoining its Syrian territory.

If Tel Abyad falls to the Kurds, the jihadists' only route between the border and the bulk of its territories in Syria and neighbouring Iraq will be a longer one via Syria's northern Aleppo province, where they are facing off against rival rebel groups.

For the Kurds, linking their northern Syrian territories would be a major victory.

The Kobane enclave, the smallest of three self-declared autonomous cantons, has been on the verge of falling to Islamic State in October before intensive US-led airstrikes enabled its defenders to slowly push back the jihadists.

In neighbouring Iraq, meanwhile, 19 members of the Yezidi minority were killed when Islamic State attacked the village of Bara, near Sinjar, officials in the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga military said.

The dead included 11 civilians and eight members of a local defence unit, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Fifteen jihadists were killed when the Peshmerga counter-attacked and forced them back.

Islamic State overran Sinjar and surrounding areas last August, trapping thousands of fleeing Yezidis on the barren heights of neighbouring Mount Sinjar until YPG units crossed the nearby border and broke their siege.

The jihadists, who view members of the religious minority as infidels, reportedly carried out mass killings of Yezidi men, forced others to convert to Islam, and enslaved women.

Read more on:    isis  |  turkey  |  syria

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