Syrian rebels win back supply route from IS militants

Syrian rebels win back supply route from IS militants
A successful Islamic State group offensive on rebel areas in Aleppo province has been stopped, with opposition fighters winning back key strategic villages.
2 min read
08 June, 2016

Aleppo, 15 dead

Syrian rebels have reopened a key supply route for opposition forces in Aleppo, a monitor has said.

Rebels ousted Islamic State group militants from two villages near the Turkish border on Wednesday, allowing supplies to reach fellow opposition fighters again.

It comes after IS militants won a series of victories against the rebels last week in northern Aleppo, capturing several villages and cutting off rebel-held Marea from their supply lines.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians were trapped in the rebel enclave, while the fall of the town appeared imminent.

But on Wednesday morning rebels including several Islamist groups launched simultaneous attacks from the two towns to squeeze IS fighters out, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

"IS did not fight hard, but rather withdrew, as they are facing attacks on numerous fronts in northern Syria," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Marea and the border town of Azaz, 20 kilometres (12 miles) to the northwest, have been in rebel hands since 2012.

The jihadi assault threatened tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering in makeshift camps next to the Turkish border.

On the defensive

IS controls a band of territory along the Turkish border from parts of Aleppo province to the group's stronghold of Raqqa on the Euphrates River to the east.

The group is under pressure from simultaneous attacks that threaten its supply lines from the Turkish border down to Raqqa.

US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters are advancing towards the IS-held town of Manbij in an attempt to cut off the jihadis' supplies of recruits and funds across the Turkish border.

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Russian-backed regime forces are also advancing towards Syria's largest dam and the adjacent IS-held town of Tabqa, another key point along IS supply lines to Raqqa.

Although Syrian factions are briefly united in fighting IS, there appears little to no cooperation between the groups.

Meanwhile, the Syrian regime continues its bombardment of rebel-held districts of Aleppo city.

Around 23 people died in the bombing according to civil rescue team the White Helmets.

Two children were among four people killed when a barrel bomb exploded in one district.

Ten people died outside a hospital when a bomb dropped from an aircraft exploded close by, damaging the main entrance of the medical centre.

Syrian regime and Russian war planes have routinely targeted hospitals, schools, markets and bakeries during the war, according to residents, activists and NGOs.