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Syria Kurds get greenlight
for ambitious campaign

The US-led coalition against ISIS has reportedly backed YPG troops in their bid to link the Kobane and Cezire cantons in northern Syria.

YPG troops move a giant banner. (Twitter)

BEIRUT – Syrian Kurds have reportedly received approval from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS to expand military operations in a bid to link two of their de-facto autonomous cantons.

 

In recent months, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been rolling back ISIS in the northeastern Hasakeh region, where the Kurds established the Cezire canton in 2014, as well as Kobane, where they also maintain a self-administered region.

 

The Kurds’ current frontlines in both regions are separated by approximately 90 kilometers of ISIS-held territory stretching eastward from Kobane toward the outskirts of Hasakeh’s Ras al-Ayn.

 

A Kurdish official said Monday that “there is an agreement between the joint forces [Kurdish and Free Syrian Army] fighting in Kobane and the coalition that support will continue until the Kobane-Cezire road is opened.”

 

Kurdish fighters have been given a “greenlight from the coalition in that respect,” Al-Akhbar quoted Kurdish Front Brigade spokesperson Ahmad Hasso as saying.

 

The paper also quoted an unnamed Kurdish field source as saying that “the opening of the Kobane-Cezire road is now a matter of time, as all the necessary procedures have been taken, in stages, to achieve that goal.”

 

The news of the new military action comes as the US-led coalition has stepped up airstrikes in both northeastern Syria’s Hasakeh province and Kobane north of Raqqa to aid Kurdish fighters in their campaigns against ISIS.

 

The Kurds have made swift advances since launching a military campaign 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.

 

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.

 

Meanwhile, YPG forces outside have Kobane have continued to push back ISIS south of the border town as well to the east in fierce fighting against the Islamist militants.

 

Battlefield situation

 

Recent fighting has seen YPG forces operating in Hasakeh continue to push westward in the direction of Kobane, with operations focusing on the strategic ISIS-held town of Mabrouka.

 

Mabrouka, which lies on a strategic road leading to the ISIS stronghold of Tel Abyad 70-kilometers westward, has been besieged by Kurdish forces.

 

“YPG fighters on Tuesday morning imposed a siege on the strategic town of Mabrouka,” Iraqi Kurdish Rudaw News reported.

 

The outlet added that the main electrical power distribution center that supplies towns in the Kurdish Cezire canton is located in Mabrouka.

 

Kurdish ANHA News reported Tuesday that Kurdish forces “have stepped up the pace of their operations” and seized two villages north of Mabrouka on Monday night, cutting all roads leading to the ISIS-held town.

 

The Kurdish advance comes amid US airstrikes, with 10 ISIS targets being hit since Sunday, including a checkpoint and a weapons cache.

 

A Kurdish fighter told ARA News that the “US-led airstrikes… help minimize our losses when we progress on the ground.”

 

Last Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “at least 170 ISIS members… have been killed in the past 48 hours by heavy coalition aerial bombardment on their positions” in Hasakeh.

Syrian Kurds are seeking to rout ISIS from areas along the Syrian-Turkish border between Kobane and Ras al-Ayn. (Twitter)

The opening of the Kobane-Cezire road is now a matter of time, as all the necessary procedures have been taken, in stages, to achieve that goal.