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Syrian Kurdish fighters seize key Daesh base

Syrian Kurdish forces and Arab fighters seized the base in Raqa province with backing from the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, which launched a series of air strikes overnight.



By (AFP)

Published: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 12:28 AM

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

Beirut — Syrian Kurdish fighters and rebel allies overnight seized a key base held by the Daesh group north of its Raqa stronghold, in a new blow for the militants.

The capture of the Brigade 93 base comes just a week after Daesh was expelled from Tal Abyad, a town on the border with Turkey that served as a important conduit for the extremist group.

Syrian Kurdish forces and Arab fighters seized the base in Raqa province with backing from the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, which launched a series of air strikes overnight.

“We have complete control over Brigade 93 and are currently sweeping it for explosives,” Redur Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) told AFP on Tuesday.

The base near the town of Ain Issa is about 55 kilometres north of Raqa, the de facto capital of Daesh’s self-declared “caliphate” in territory it holds in Syria and Iraq.

Khalil said fighting was ongoing for control of Ain Issa, with YPG and allied Syrian rebel forces hoping to seize it from Daesh forces.

“It is our next target because we want to secure the region and Ain Issa is very close to the Brigade 93 base and also the main road that runs through the area.”

Ain Issa and Brigade 93 both lie on a key highway that runs between Kurdish-held territory in Aleppo province and Hasakeh province, to the west and east respectively of Raqa province.

The same route also links territory held by the Daesh group in Aleppo and Hasakeh provinces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the capture of the base, and the advance of the anti-Daesh forces on Ain Issa, adding that at least 26 Daesh fighters were killed in US-led air strikes in the area on Monday.

“The Kurdish forces and the rebels have control of the west and southwestern parts of the town, but fighting is ongoing elsewhere inside,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

“Daesh’s defence lines have now been pushed back to the outskirts of Raqa city because the area between Raqa and Ain Issa is militarily weak and they have no fortifications in that area, which is mostly open plains,” he added. The advance is the latest success for YPG forces and their rebel allies, backed by US-led air power.

On June 16, they captured Tal Abyad, on the Turkish border, which had been held by Daesh for a year, depriving the group of a key conduit through which it brought in fighters and weapons and exported black market oil.

Kurdish forces have been chipping away at Daesh territory in the northern Raqa province for months, after successfully repelling an attack by the militants on the border town of Kobani in January. The YPG has emerged as “arguably the most effective fighting force against Daesh in Syria,” analyst Sirwan Kajjo said after the capture of Tal Abyad. — AFP


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