Newspaper article International New York Times

Kurd Forces and Rebels Push ISIS out of Syria Town

Newspaper article International New York Times

Kurd Forces and Rebels Push ISIS out of Syria Town

Article excerpt

Islamic State fighters were driven from Tal Abyad, a strategic Syrian town on Turkey's border that had been held by the Islamic State for over a year.

Kurdish militias and rebel fighters took full control of a strategic Syrian town on Turkey's border on Tuesday, striking a blow against the jihadists of the Islamic State and expanding their realm of control.

Kurdish commanders and activists said the opposition forces had seized most of Tal Abyad the night before following an ISIS withdrawal.

A Kurdish commander, Haqi Kobane, told The Associated Press that opposition forces were clearing booby traps and mines throughout the town, which the Islamic State had controlled for more than a year and used to smuggle in fighters and supplies bound for their stronghold in the city of Raqqa.

The coalition of Kurds and Arabs who seized Tal Abyad celebrated their victory by tearing down the jihadists' black flags and replacing them with their own, while expressing hopes that they could use the border crossing with Turkey to supply their communities.

But that appeared unlikely, with Turkish officials expressing dismay that a force dominated by a Kurdish militia from the Democratic Union Party, or P.Y.D., had taken the town. The group is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or P.K.K., which has waged a 30-year insurgency against the Turkish state.

While particularly sensitive to the P.K.K., Turkey's leaders have long seen any advance by Kurdish forces in Syria as a threat to their national security and characterized those fighters as no better than the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, an Arabic acronym.

"Daesh attacks and kills those it captures. Kurdish militias seize certain regions and force people living there to migrate," said Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in comments to the state broadcaster TRT on Tuesday. …

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