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Syrian Kurds press
anti-ISIS campaign

YPG fighters backed by coalition airstrikes and Peshmerga shelling are seeking to seize ISIS-held bastions in the Hasakeh province.

Kurdish YPG fighter. (AFP/Ahmed Deeb)

BEIRUT – Syrian Kurdish fighters continued their campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) group in northeastern Syria, seizing a number of villages amid coalition airstrikes.

 

“Fierce clashes are raging between the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and ISIS in the Hasakeh province,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday, days after the Kurds launched their campaign in the area south of the border town of Qamishli.

 

The YPG campaign aims to seize the ISIS-held town of Tal Hamis, southeast of Qamishli, Reuters reported Sunday, adding that the Kurds had launched their campaign after ISIS began reinforcing its bastions in the area with foreign fighters.

 

A spokesperson for the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the umbrella political organization for the YPG, told AFP that the offensive “is one of the YPG’s biggest recent operations.”

 

ISIS counterattacked Monday after YPG units took control of a number of villages in their advance on Tel Hamis over the weekend.

 

The Islamist group’s fighters attacked two villages that lie on the outskirts of Tel Tamr, a town on the Aleppo-Mosul international highway, 45 kilometers northeast of the city of Hasakeh, the SOHR reported on Monday.

 

The monitoring group added that although ISIS was shelling Tel Tamr, there were no reports of any casualties in the town.

 

“ISIS members have advanced and taken control of much of the village of Agheibish. Information also suggests that YPG units have withdrawn from positions in the surrounding villages.”

 

Despite the ISIS countrattack in the Tel Tamr area, YPG fighters notched successes elsewhere, taking control of two villages near the border town of Jaza, according to the SOHR.

 

The PYD announced early Monday afternoon that its YPG fighters had seized a number of villages in its ongoing campaign.

 

“[The] YPG has liberated 14 villages southeast of Qamishli and southeast of Tel Hamis via special operations carried out against ISIS terrorists,” the party wrote on Twitter.

 

The SOHR reported Sunday that the Kurds had taken control of 20 villages near Tel Hamis, launching attacks in the area in coordination with airstrikes conducted by the US-led coalition bombing ISIS.

 

A Kurdish official, Nasir Haj Mansour, told Reuters that “Kurdish fighters were giving the coordinates of [ISIS] targets” to the coalition.

 

The YPG campaign is also being conducted in coordination with Peshmerga Kurds across the border in Iraq.

 

Rudaw news reported that Peshmerga forces “have begun shelling ISIS-held villages” in the Hasakeh province.

 

The Kurdish news agency cited a security official as saying that “ground forces have advanced from the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”

 

“As a result of the Peshmerga advance the villages of Tarbik and Tal-Mushrif were liberated in southern Kurdistan,” Qasin Shasho said.

 

Syria Kurds back Turkish incursion

 

Amid the anti-ISIS offensive, Syrian YPG fighters over the weekend also aided the Turkish incursion into northern Syria to relocate the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottaman Empire.

 

Overnight Saturday, hundreds of Turkish soldiers backed with armor moved into Syrian territory to seize the remains of Suleyman Shah and evacuate the Turkish soldiers guarding the tomb, which Turkey considers to be its sovereign territory.

 

The PYD announced Sunday that the Turkish incursion was carried out in coordination with the party’s YPG forces, and that it had been planned days in advance.

 

Turkish Hurriyet news reported Monday morning that “around 300 armed Syrian Kurdish fighters provided a security corridor for Turkish troops.”

 

The paper elaborated the YPG fighters had established a “five-kilometer long corridor” for the Turkish troops spanning from the border town of Murstipinar southward to the tomb.

Kurdish YPG fighters are pressing a campaign to seize ISIS-held towns. (AFP/Ahmed Deeb)

[The] YPG has liberated 14 villages southeast of Qamishli and southeast of Tel Hamis via special operations carried out against ISIS terrorists.