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Kurds close in on Daesh-held Syria border town

Kurds close in on Daesh-held Syria border town

Late Saturday, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) advanced to within five kilometres (three miles) of Tal Abyad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.



By (AFP)

Published: Sun 14 Jun 2015, 5:10 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:07 PM

Syrians carry belongings back to the city centre of the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, as seen from Turkey at the Turkish crossing of Akcakale in the southeast Sanliurfa province.- AFP

Syrians carry belongings back to the city centre of the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, as seen from Turkey at the Turkish crossing of Akcakale in the southeast Sanliurfa province.- AFP

Beirut: Kurdish forces closed in on a strategic Daesh-held border town in northern Syria on Sunday, prompting an exodus of fearful civilians from surrounding villages.

Backed by allied rebels and air strikes by a US-led coalition, Kurdish militia pressed their offensive on Tal Abyad, used by the Daesh group as a gateway from neighbouring Turkey.

Late Saturday, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) advanced to within five kilometres (three miles) of Tal Abyad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The militia also seized at least 20 villages southwest of the border town, the Britain-based monitoring group added.

“They are on the eastern outskirts of Tal Abyad, but the southwestern front is much more difficult because it’s more populated,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

A Kurdish activist who visits the front line daily said the area’s mixed population was seeking refuge wherever it could.

“Tal Abyad is almost completely surrounded,” Arin Shekhmos told AFP.

An AFP correspondent on the Turkish side of the border reported that thousands of would-be refugees were queueing behind the barbed wire seeking asylum.

Another Kurdish activist in the symbolic battleground town of Kobane further west, liberated from Daesh by the Kurds earlier this year, said authorities there had set up a camp for the displaced.

“We are waiting for the whole border area to be liberated — from northeastern Syria all the way to Kobane,” Mustafa Ebdi told AFP.

Tal Abyad lies on the border between mainly Kurdish Kobane and Syria’s most populous ethnic Kurdish region — Hasakeh province — in the northeast.

Both Ebdi and the Observatory said the Kurds had already occupied the nearby town of Suluk, denying Daesh access to Tal Abyad from the east.

“Daesh has completely withdrawn from Suluk. The Kurds are combing through it now and clearing the mines and booby-trapped vehicles there,” Abdel Rahman said.

He told AFP that US-led air strikes had been key in forcing the militants to withdraw.

On Saturday, the coalition said it had struck three Daesh tactical units near Kobane and had destroyed one of the group’s fighting positions.

To the west in Aleppo province, coalition raids killed at least 12 Daesh fighters as they fought a rebel alliance for control of a supply route from Turkey, Abdel Rahman said.


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