Syrian Kurds besiege ′Islamic State′ bastion in the north | News | DW | 15.06.2015
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Syrian Kurds besiege 'Islamic State' bastion in the north

Syrian Kurdish forces have severed a key supply road linking the border down of Tal Abyad to the Raqqa city. The Kurdish YPG militia said it was pushing ahead to the "Islamic State" bastion, helped by US-led airstrikes.

"The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have cut the route" and have surrounded the town along the Syrian-Turkish border, Kurdish commander Hussein Khojer said on Monday.

Tal Abyad is the nearest town to the "Islamic State" (IS) de facto capital of Raqqa.

"There is nowhere Daesh can escape to," Khojer told the AFP news agency, using the Arabic acronym for IS. He said the strategically-important town was attacked from two sides with the help of Syrian rebel groups.

"The YPG units from Kobane (in the west) and Jazira (in the east) met up south of Tal Abyad," he explained.

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil also confirmed that Tal Abyad had been "almost besieged now after the control of the Raqqa-Tal Abyad road."

According to eye witnesses, there have been fierce fighting between Kurdish forces and IS militants near the town. At least 19 IS jihadists have reportedly been killed.

Sunni militant organization IS has captured vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. The Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels have thwarted their advance in many areas with the help of the US air power.

IS given 'a beating'

An envoy for the US-led aerial coalition earlier confirmed that Kurdish fighters in northern Syria were scoring territorial gains against IS jihadists and were "very close" to severing a supply route to Raqqa.

Brett McGurk, the coalition's US deputy special envoy, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" program, said Kurdish and other units were giving IS a "beating."

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Kurdish fighters had captured more villages on Sunday near Tal Abyad.

The jihadists had blown up bridges southeast and southwest of Tal Abyad to prevent the YPG from pushing forward, the observatory added.

Desperate scenes at border crossing

Fearing a major battle around Tal Abyad, Kurdish and Arab civilians, many carrying possessions, had clamored behind barbed wire for entry into Turkey.

Turkish troops initially fired water cannon and even pepper spray to keep them at bay, but hours later, Turkey's government reversed its decision and allowed in the waiting refugees.

shs,ipj/ rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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