Arab-Kurd fighters kill 16 ISIS militants near Syria ‘capital’

The alliance, made up of units from YPG and Arab fighters, has carried out several major operations against ISIS

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Arab and Kurdish forces have killed at least 16 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group during fierce clashes north of the militants’ stronghold of Raqqa, a monitor said Sunday.

The militantslaunched an offensive last Wednesday against areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces coalition near to Ain Issa, a town held by the SDF some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Raqqa, killing 21 Kurdish fighters.

Late on Saturday, “16 jihadists were killed and 19 wounded” in clashes with the SDF near Ain Issa, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The SDF also recaptured an area seized by ISIS a few days earlier, he said.

The alliance, made up of units from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Arab fighters, has carried out several major operations against ISIS.

On December 26, it seized the Tishreen Dam from ISIS along with several villages on the Euphrates’ eastern bank.

The dam, held by ISIS since 2014, helps generate electricity for large parts of the northern Aleppo province, the Observatory said.

It was the alliance’s second major operation, after clearing ISIS from some 200 villages in the northeastern province of Hasakeh.

On the Euphrates’ western bank, ISIS still controls swathes of territory stretching from Raqqa to Jarablus, on the border with Turkey.

More than 260,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011.

The conflict started as anti-government protests, but spiralled into a complicated multi-sided conflict.