BEIRUT: Syrian Kurdish fighters have chased Islamic State militants from a key base north of the jihadists’ stronghold city of Raqa, according to a monitoring group.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units — with US-led air support — took complete control of the Liwa (Brigade) 93 base on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“IS lines of defense were pushed back to the gates of Raqa,” added Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Observatory.
“The Kurds also entered the outskirts of the town of Ayn Issa, close to Brigade 93… this town has basically fallen in the military sense with the capture of the base.”
The base was important due to its position overlooking strategic roads linking Raqa to other IS outposts in the provinces of Aleppo to the west and Hasakah to the east.
IS militants had held the military base after capturing it from regime forces last summer.
The taking of the base is the second blow inflicted on IS fighters by the Kurds in a week after the capture of Tal Abyad, on Syria’s border with Turkey.
Tal Abyad was a key conduit for foreign fighters and supplies into IS-held territory in Syria and for exports of black market oil from jihadist-held fields.
Kurdish forces defended the Syrian town of Kobane against IS in a months-long battle, and have emerged as some of the most effective forces battling the jihadist group in the year since it declared a cross-border “caliphate” with neighbouring Iraq. AFP