Kurds Repel Attack by Islamic State in Syrian Town Targeted by Turkey

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Kurdish fighters from the U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) have reportedly repelled an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) offensive on the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, which sits close to the Turkish border in Raqqa province.

On Saturday, ISIS jihadists launched an assault on the border town of Tal Abyad and the nearby village of Suluk, both which were captured by the YPG months ago. The U.S.-led coalition launched airstrikes to drive ISIS back.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the YPG swept through Tal Abyad days after the Turkish military allegedly targeted the same border town.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict through a network of ground sources, Turkish forces “opened fire” on Sunday, targeting areas in and around Tal Abyad.

CBS News reported on Sunday that “the Russian military operating in Syria said it has information about an attack on the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad from Turkish territories with the use of large-caliber artillery.”

The Observatory noted that no losses were reported after the Turkish forces opened fire on the area Sunday.

The Syrian town of Tal Abyad has been under YPG control since June 2015 when YPG forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, drove out ISIS.

YPG forces are the armed wing of the U.S.-backed Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls large swathes of northern Syria. Turkey has deemed the PYD a terrorist group that is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The communist PKK group has been officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

CBS News reported that the battle between the YPG and ISIS for Tal Abyad lasted a full day. Although ISIS maintains a presence on the outskirts of the border town, the Kurdish fighters forced ISIS out Tal Abyad.

The Observatory reported the battle left 70 ISIS fighters, 20 Kurdish fighters and 10 civilians dead.

Reuters learned from a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity that Turkish artillery hit at least 10 ISIS targets inside Syria on Sunday.

“Up to 50 rounds were fired between 2 and 3 p.m. (1200-1300 GMT)… The Turkish broadcaster NTV said the targets were to the north of Aleppo,” revealed the news outlet.

Aleppo province is next to Raqqa province, where Tal Abyad is located.

A “cessation of hostilities,” brokered by the United States and Russia, came into effect in Syria over the weekend. Under the truce, the Syrian government, Russia and the U.S.-led coalition reserve the right to continue attacks against ISIS or the al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front, both of which have been designated terrorist organizations by the international community.

The ceasefire also excludes other outfits designated as terror organizations by the United Nations. Although the PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and its allies, it is not labeled as such by the UN.

Russia has established a truce monitoring center at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, where Moscow’s warplanes are based.

Turkey has been accused of breaching the ceasefire by Russia. The attack on Kurdish-held Tal Abyad constitutes a violation of the truce, Russia has said.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said his country will not comply with the ceasefire in Syria if Ankara’s security is perceived to be under threat.


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