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Kurds rolling back
ISIS in Hasakeh

YPG forces backed by allied militias have seized ISIS' most important stronghold in the northeastern Syrian province.

YPG troops. (AFP/Uygar Onder Simsek)

BEIRUT – Kurdish forces backed by heavy coalition airstrikes have forced ISIS fighters into a retreat in northeastern Syria and seized the group’s most important stronghold in the region.

 

“Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) troops on Tuesday evening seized Mount Abdel Aziz… following heavy clashes with ISIS forces,” ARA News reported.

 

Meanwhile, the self-declared autonomous Cezire Canton administered by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) issued a statement that YPG troops had “hoisted their flag over the mountain.”

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in turn, reported late Tuesday that the Kurdish fighting forces had ascended the mountain with the aid of coalition airstrikes in the area.

 

Mount Abdel Aziz, which is located approximately 35 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital of Hasakeh, is considered to be ISIS’ most important stronghold in the region.

 

The nearly 300 Assyrian Christians kidnapped by ISIS in February in the Hasakeh province were reportedly detained in the arid mountain area.

 

YPG offensive

 

The capture of Mount Abdel Aziz comes amid the major offensive launched by the Kurds with Assyrian militia backing in western Hasakeh on May 6 in a bid to push back ISIS forces.

 

The military campaign has seen YPG troops backed by the tribal Arab Al-Sanadid Army and the Assyrian Khabour Guards and Syriac Military Council (MFS) seize considerable ground from the Islamist militants.

 

Alaraby Aljadeed reported that the coalition of anti-ISIS forces have achieved “unprecedented progress” with their recent offensive as ISIS has been preoccupied with its campaign to seize the Syrian-regime controlled town of Palmyra.

 

The offensive has focused on two axes, the first one along the Turkish border near the town of Ras al-Ayn (Sere Kaniye in Kurdish) and the second one approximately 30 kilometers southward outside the Assyrian-populated Tel Tamr.

 

A source in the YPG told ARA News on Wednesday that the Kurdish fighting force was looking to link the Tel Tamr front with the one outside Ras al-Ayn.

 

The YPG’s General Command issued a statement Tuesday touting its advances in Hasakeh and saying that the Kurds continued “their operations against a large number of terrorist elements who were surrounded yesterday within an area of over 10 villages.”

 

The Kurdish militia added that it had seized control over eight villages and that ISIS forces “were being fully monitored, and their fighters were eliminated while trying desperately to flee,” in an implicit reference to the heavy coalition airstrikes being conducted in the area.

 

The Observatory on Tuesday said that “at least 170 ISIS members… have been killed in the past 48 hours by heavy coalition aerial bombardment on their positions.”

 

The monitoring NGO cited “trusted sources” as saying the strikes helped the YPG forces in their advances.

 

Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense’s Central Command issued a statement that seven airstrikes in the region had targeted two large and two small ISIS units, three of the militants’ fighting positions and a number of vehicles.

YPG troops have pushed back ISIS in Hasakeh with the help of coalition airstrikes. (AFP/Uygar Onder Simsek)

“Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) troops on Tuesday evening seized Mount Abdel Aziz… following heavy clashes with ISIS forces.