Kurdish fighters attack ISIS in northeast Syria
The Kurdish YPG had decided to launch the attack after ISIS reinforced its positions in the area with foreign fighters
Syrian Kurdish forces advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in two separate attacks in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border on Sunday, an organization tracking the war reported, according to Reuters news agency.
In an attack backed by U.S.-led air strikes, the Kurdish YPG advanced to within 5 km (3 miles) of Tel Hamis, an ISIS-controlled town 35 km (22 miles) southeast of the city of Qamishli, Kurdish official Nasir Haj Mansour said.
“Twenty-three farms and villages, big and small, have been liberated,” Mansour told Reuters by telephone.
Hasaka province in the northeastern corner of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders areas controlled by the group in Iraq.
The attack is the latest example of coordination between the U.S.-led alliance and the YPG in the fight against ISIS, which has seized wide areas of Syria and Iraq and declared them part of a cross-border “caliphate”.
The YPG had decided to launch the attack after ISIS reinforced its positions in the area with foreign fighters.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said at least 12 ISIS fighters were killed in the fighting and confirmed the advance by the YPG. Mansour said 20 ISIS fighters had been killed.
In the second advance in the northeast, Kurdish fighters took two villages from ISIS at the Iraqi border, helped by heavy shelling by Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces on the other side of the frontier, the Observatory said. It said the shelling killed eight people, five of them children.
The Kurdish YPG militia has been one of the extremist group's toughest enemies in Syria and last month flushed ISIS out of the town of Kobane with the help of U.S. and allied air support and Iraqi Kurdish reinforcements on the ground.
The hardline Islamist militant group has shown signs of strain in Syria since it was driven out of Kobane. Syrian government forces have also made gains in the provinces of Hasaka and Deir al-Zor recently.
Since driving ISIS from Kobane, the Kurdish forces backed by other Syrian armed groups have pursued ISIS fighters as far their provincial stronghold of Raqqa.
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