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Syrian Kurds retake major road to Tel Abyad

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Fighters of People's Protection Units (YPG) celebrate their gains in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli on February 27, 2015. © AFP

Syrian Kurds have made new advances in their offensive against ISIL Takfiri militants in northeast Syria, cutting off a major supply line to the terrorists.

A source close to the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced Monday that fighters of the militia group have further advanced on the border town of Tel Abyad, encircling ISIL militants in the city.

The source said YPG forces have recaptured a major road linking Tel Abyad to Raqqa City, the capital of the Syrian province with the same name, which is currently under the control of ISIL and serves as its de facto capital.

“This is the only passage linking Turkey with the extremist group's main base” the source said, adding that YPG forces have also entered some areas inside Tel Abyad.

A Kurdish commander later confirmed the retaking of the road, saying YPG forces, backed by other Kurdish rebel fighters, have completely encircled ISIL militants inside Tel Abyad.

“There is nowhere Daesh (ISIL) can escape to," Hussein Khojer said.

The YPG commander said Kurdish forces have launched offensives on the outskirts of Kobane from east and west. “The YPG units from Kobane and Jazira met up south of Tel Abyad,” he said.

Capturing the town, which is also known as Gire Sipi, is of high importance to the YPG as a way of linking the areas already under their control to Kobane, a major city they retook from ISIL last year.

Later in the day, Kurdish forces also retook a key crossing on the border with Turkey, clearing ISIL militants from the area. The YPG forces managed to capture the Syrian part of the Akcakale-Tel Abyad border post after engaging in fierce clashes with the militants.

Thousands have fled the intense fighting over the past 10 days, trying to seek refuge in Turkey. Officials in Ankara, however, keep insisting that they could not accept the refugees, with a deputy prime minister claiming Monday that if Turkey accepts a new wave of people fleeing from Tel Abyad, the country should be prepared for "an influx of at least 100,000 refugees."

Syrians fleeing the war pass through broken border fences to enter Turkish territory illegally, near the Turkish Akcakale border crossing in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, on June 14, 2015. © AFP

“We are of the opinion that there isn't a humanitarian crisis in Tel Abyad, similar to Kobane or other regions in Syria,” Numan Kurtulmus said.

However, around 3,000 refugees managed to enter the Turkish land after border officials opened the gates of Akcakale crossing on Monday. That increases the total number of people accepted by Turkey to 6,000 of an estimated 20,000 escaping the battle in northeast Syria.


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