Entrance of Tel Abyad city in Raqqa province after withdrawal of ISIS. The Kurdish and allied rebels regained the city on Monday, June 15, 2015. Photo: ARA News
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Urfa, Turkey – Subsequent to fierce battles with militants of the Islamic State group (IS/ISIS), the joint forces of People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Burkan al-Furat, supported by the U.S.-led coalition’s warplanes, regained major parts of the strategic city of Tel Abyad (Gire Spi) in Raqqa province, northeastern Syria, YPG sources reported on Monday.
The joint forces attacked ISIS from the eastern and southern sides of the city.
Speaking to ARA News, YPG members said that the joint forces gained control of the city’s crossing on the Turkish border, where dozens of IS militants surrendered to the Turkish army following the clashes.
“The Turkish army arrested IS fleeing members and transferred the foreign ones to unknown places, while kept local insurgents inside a building near the crossing,” the source added.
After more than a year and a half of the IS black flag waving on Tel Abyad’s crossing, the joint forces raised the flag of Syria independence (a symbol taken by the Syrian opposition) on the border crossing of the city.
Shervan Darwish, official spokesman of Burkan al-Furat rebels, said the joint forces are currently clearing the town of Ain al-Arous (5 km south of Tel Abyad city) from IS terrorists.
The Kurdish fighters seized earlier on Sunday the Mashhour Tahtani area on the southeastern side of Tel Abyad, with the US-led coalition’s warplanes carrying out at least five strikes against IS overnight.
The strikes are reportedly paving the way for the advance of the Kurdish and rebel forces.
In the meantime, the Kurdish advance has prompted criticism from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused the Kurdish forces of the YPG of establishing an autonomy in northeastern Syria.
Tel Abyad lies some 85 kilometers (50 miles) north of IS’s de facto capital Raqqa, and it serves as a primary conduit for incoming weapons and fighters, as well as for outgoing black market oil, so major IS supply line to Raqqa has been cut off by Kurds in Syria’s northeast on Monday.
Reporting by: Redwan Bezar and Egid Yousef
Source: ARA News