Ekurd Daily, June 16, 2015
TEL ABYAD, Syrian Kurdistan,— Syrian Kurdish fighters say they have taken the strategic town of Tel Abyad (Girê Spî) in Syrian Kurdistan, a major supply route to al-Raqqa province, a stronghold of the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria.
“It’s now under complete control,” Redur Xelil, a spokesperson of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), said on Monday after a day of rapid advances in an offensive aided by US-led air strikes.
Tel Abyad, on the frontier with Turkey, has been a main conduit for the Islamic State militants to smuggle weapons and oil.
Kurdish militia, backed by Syrian rebel forces, seized full control of a key border town from Islamic State group jihadists early on Tuesday, a monitoring group said.
“Since dawn this morning, not a single bullet has been fired in Tel Abyad,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“The Kurdish fighters now have full control of Tel Abyad,” which was used by IS as a gateway from Turkey to its de facto capital Raqa to the south, he said.
Kurdish commander Rubar Qamislo said operation launched by the YPG/YPJ and Burkan Al Firat forces has reached to its completion as Tel Abyad is cleansed of the IS militants following the pincer operation.
Militiamen of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their Syrian rebel allies were combing through the town to clear mines and booby-trapped cars left behind by IS fighters.
“There are mines and car bombs everywhere, and bodies of IS fighters lying in the streets,” said Sherfan Darwish, a spokesman for the Burkan al-Furat rebel group fighting alongside the YPG.
He said the anti-IS alliance was clearing the town before civilians could begin to return.
The town’s fall is a heavy blow to IS, which had used the adjacent border crossing with Turkey to bring in fighters and ammunition, and smuggle out black market oil, analysts say.
The group will now have to rely on border crossings much further west in neighbouring Aleppo province, adding hundreds of kilometres (nearly 200 miles) to their supply lines, Abdel Rahman said.
There, IS holds the Syrian side of the Jarablus crossing, which has been closed by Turkey, but other informal routes across the border remain open.
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