Major Setbacks for IS

Major Setbacks for ISMajor Setbacks for IS

Hezbollah and the Syrian Army captured fresh territory from the Islamic State outside a northern Qalamoun town Tuesday, in a move that saw renewed clashes with the militant group, Al-Manar TV reported.

The channel said the allied forces took over the areas of Tallat Ras Al-Kosh and Qornat Ras Al-Sahbah on the outskirts of government-held Jarajeer, in an advance that left scores of militants either dead or wounded.

Last week, Hezbollah repelled an IS attack in northeast Lebanon, losing eight fighters and killing at least 14 insurgents, in the largest confrontation between the two groups since the Lebanese party joined the Syrian war three years ago, Albawaba reported.

Hezbollah and the Syrian Army have been battling militants in Syria’s Qalamoun mountain range along Lebanon’s eastern borders for more than a month.

The allied forces have achieved major field victories, taking nearly two-thirds of the Qalamoun hills in roughly five weeks, according to Al-Manar.

IS has been in control of most of Arsal’s northern outskirts since last year, while Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front, has been in control of the eastern and southern outskirts.

At least 244 militants have been killed since the launch of the Qalamoun offensive on May 4, according to a source close to Hezbollah.

 Kurds Retake Key Border Post

Syrian Kurdish militias said they have taken control of the IS-captured town of Tal Abyad on Tuesday, cutting off a major supply route for the group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed Tuesday that the main Kurdish fighting force, known as the YPG, has seized control of the town.

Reinforcements were sent by the YPG to help secure the main road south to IS headquarters at Raqqa.

“The whole city is under our control and there is no more fighting,” Huseyin Kocher, a Kurdish YPG commander in Tal Abyad said. “Our people should know that we are going to clean all the remnants of IS in northern Syria.”

The takeover of Tal Abyad marks the biggest setback yet to the IS, which lost a key supply line for Raqqa. It deprives the group of a direct route for bringing in foreign militants and supplies, and links the Kurds’ two fronts, putting even more pressure on Raqqa.

YPG units advancing from the east and west reached the outskirts of Tal Abyad on Sunday, after days of fierce clashes during which they seized a string of villages.

On Monday afternoon, the units met south of Tal Abyad after taking the road to Raqqa, which is 80 km away, a YPG commander said.

 5,000 Syrians Pour Into Turkey

More than 5,000 Syrian refugees, fleeing airstrikes and deadly clashes with IS in Tal Abyad, have crossed into Turkey through the southern Akcakale border gate, Turkish officials said.

Fighting between Kurdish forces and IS insurgents in and around Tal Abyad has brought the new wave of desperate civilians trying to escape danger.

“5,291 people, who entered Turkey, were registered today. 1,413 of the refugees are women while 2,287 are children,” said the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency in a statement on Monday.

Turkey decided to let Syrians into the country after clashes intensified in the eastern and the southern parts of Tal Abyad.

The refugees were ushered in through some deliberate opening in a border chain-link fence since IS militants were blocking access into Turkey through the customs area.

The first intake of refugees started at midday Monday and finished late afternoon.

Almost 10,000 Syrians have entered Turkey through Akcakale border gate in the past two days. Meanwhile, 291 people, coming from Iraq, also crossed into Turkey.

The border was calm on Tuesday, in sharp contrast to previous days when thousands poured into the border crossing, some punching a hole in the fence to break into Turkey.

On Tuesday, a few civilians were seen walking around, along with some people on the Turkish side apparently waiting to go back into Syria.