Fighters of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) hold a position during fighting against ISIS militants. File photo
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ALEPPO ــ Subsequent to fierce battles with rebel groups, militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) were able to control several key areas in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, local sources reported on Saturday.
Local activists confirmed that ISIS jihadis have advanced in the region despite the Turkish bombardment on the group’s locations near the Syrian-Turkish border.
Speaking to ARA News in Aleppo, rebel spokesman Saleh Zein said that ISIS insurgents launched a major offensive on rebels’ positions in Aleppo’s northern suburbs and were able to recapture Kafr Ghan, Tel Hussein and Biraghida villages near the Syrian-Turkish border after heavy battles with the rebel fighters of al-Sham Corps and al-Hamza Brigade.
The source emphasized that ISIS jihadis have used heavy weapons against the rebel factions, causing them heavy losses in manpower and equipment.
Zein pointed out that the battles are still ongoing between the two sides, while rebels try to recapture the areas that fell to ISIS on Saturday.
“Daesh has advanced in the region despite Turkish heavy shelling on its positions on the outskirts of Tel Hussein and Biraghida near the Syria-Turkey border,” Zein told ARA News, using an acronym for ISIS.
In the meantime, rebel fighters of the 13th squad along with the 1st regiment targeted headquarters of the ISIS group in the towns and Harbal and Asanbil with mortar shells and hell cannon amid reports of casualties among the group’s ranks, according to the spokesman.
ISIS was able last week to seize control of the strategic town of al-Raee in northern Aleppo subsequent to fierce battles with rebel fighters, according to locals.
Also Saturday, the US-led coalition forces conducted several air raids on ISIS headquarters in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, causing the death and injury of dozens among ISIS jihadis, locals reported.
Speaking to ARA News, J.L. based in Hasakah, confirmed that the US-led coalition forces targeted headquarters and tactical units for the radical group in the vicinity of Margada town south of Hasakah, northeast of Syria, causing the group heavy losses in manpower and equipment.
“However, some of the group’s militants were able to avoid airstrikes through hiding within the civilians’ houses in the town,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
ARA News could not verify the death toll among ISIS ranks.
In February, ISIS militants have evacuated their headquarters in Shaddadi city in Hasakah province under heavy bombardment by the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF forces include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) along with Arab and Christian groups. Backed by the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF alliance is mainly focused on fighting ISIS, al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups in northern Syria.
SDF’s progress in Shaddadi came after they were able to cut off a main supply route [al-Hawl] for the radical group near Syria’s northeastern border with Iraq.
“SDF units have closed a strategic supply route near Shaddadi and paralyzed ISIS’s movement subsequent to losing its main supply line with Iraq’s Mosul,” an SDF official told ARA News in a previous interview.
Furthermore, the SDF alliance had seized control of a key gas facility and main financial resource for the group in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province. The western-backed forces regained control of the Jibisa gas facility, located about 12km east of Shaddadi city in southern Hasakah.
The facility had been used by ISIS for nearly two years as a source to fund its operations. Jibisa gas facility is considered one of the main gas facilities in northern Syria for its huge production that has been feeding power stations in central Syria. The facility was run by some 500 workers, including specialized engineers, technicians and workers.
The Kurdish-Arab alliance of SDF had earlier liberated more than 240 towns and villages from ISIS militants on the border with Iraq. SDF has now been fortifying its positions in the southern suburbs of Shaddadi, while SDF-ISIS clashes have stopped for nearly two months in the region. The Azzawi village, between Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor provinces, is considered an area of contact between the two sides.
Reporting by: Taim Khalil and Ahmad Shiwesh
Source: ARA News