Kurdish fighters repel ISIS attack on major town near Turkish border
Syrian Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protections Units (YPG) swept through the Syrian town of Tal Abyad on Wednesday after beating back an offensive from the Islamic State group.
Tal Abyad is located close to the Turkish border, in Syria’s northern Raqqa province.
IS militants launched a surprise attack over the weekend on several areas in Raqqa province.
At least 70 IS militants died in the fighting in Tal Abyad, along with 20 YPG fighters and 10 civilians.
“Thank God we cleared everything and the region is safe and people might return to their homes in two to three days,” Aziz Ahmad, a YPG fighter, told the Associated Press.
Forces fighting the extremist group are loosely grouped under the name Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which is a coalition of Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Syriac Christian fighters, but is dominated by its Kurdish element, the YPG.
The Islamic State group, along with al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, is not party to a ceasefire accord brokered by the US and Russia.
It also excludes other outfits designated as terror groups by the UN.
“They (Islamic State fighters) killed three or four innocent families, are they killing Jews or Muslims? What is the fault of these people, or those innocent children?” Mohammad Saleh, a Syria Democratic Forces fighter, told the Associated Press.
The “cessation of hostilities” has largely held since taking effect Saturday.
It marks the most ambitious international attempt yet to reduce violence in the devastating conflict, which has killed more than 250,000 people, wounded a million and generated one of the worst refugee crises since World War II.
Meanwhile, four suicide bombers disguised as soldiers struck an Iraqi military headquarters in the western town of Haditha on Tuesday, killing eight army officers, including a local commander, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
Local councilman Khalid Salman said one of the bombers attacked the gate of the compound and the others struck after soldiers gathered to help the victims. He said eight soldiers were wounded in the attack.
IS claimed the assault in online statements issued on jihadi websites, saying it was carried out by two Syrian suicide bombers. The AP could not confirm the authenticity of the statements, but they resembled previous announcements issued by the group.
-With files from Sinan Salaheddin
© 2016 The Associated Press