Syrian rebels take most of Al Rai

On 7 April 2016 Syrian rebels, supported by Turkey, took from Daesh most of the town of Al Rai, near the Turkish border. The Turkish-backed rebels now control the stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border from their Azaz enclave to Al Rai.

The rebels’ advance will hinder the Kurds’ plans to take over this Daesh-controlled area themselves in order to unite their own enclaves – a plan vehemently resisted by Turkey.

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Syrian Kurds continue advance against Daesh; Assad forces proceed to destroy surrounded Daesh forces

On 20 February 2016 Syrian Kurds continued their successful offensive against Daesh [ISIS] in eastern Syria. After unexpectedly capturing Al-Shadadi town on 19 February, they kept advancing rapidly along the Nahrl al Khabur river valley and took Fadghami village more than 20 kilometers south-east from Al-Shadadi. As a result, they have now come close to the last significant possession of Daesh in Al-Hasakah Province – Markadah town.

Meanwhile, on 21 February Syrian regime forces destroyed the pocket of the Daesh forces in Aleppo Province which they had surrounded on 20 February. In the process, they took a number of villages and Rayyan town.

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SDF capture Al-Shadadi from Daesh

According to Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-hasaka-idUSKCN0VS29A), on 19 February 2016, Syrian Democratic Forces coalition led by the Syrian Kurds captured the town of Al-Shadadi in eastern Syria from Daesh [ISIS].

The development appears to be part of the present American plan to take over the territory under Daesh control in cooperation with the Kurdish-led SDF.

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Syrian Kurds take Marea

On 16 February 2016 Syrian Kurds took first the village of Shaykh Isa just west from the Marea town, and then Marea itself. Reportedly, the rebels negotiated bloodless surrender of Marea in exchange for safe passage to the remaining rebel-controlled areas to the north.

As a result of the Syrian regime forces’ and Kurdish advances, the northern enclave of the rebels has become practically limited to the town of Azaz. Turkey insists it will not let Azaz fall into the hands of the Kurds.

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Assad’s forces and Kurds take over rebels’ territories in northern Aleppo province

On 15 February 2016 the rebels suffered another series of territorial losses at the hands of government forces and Syrian Kurds.

The Kurds took Tall Rifat – one of the three towns that had been remaining in the rebels’ hands in their northern enclave. They also took the village of Ayn Deqna.

The Assad’s forces took villages of Kafr Naseh and Ahras.

The northern enclave of the rebels is cut from the rest of the rebels’ territory and faces destruction. Turkey, however, has stated it will not allow the fall of the enclave’s most significant town of Azaz into the Kurdish hands.

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Syrian Kurds take Minnegh from the rebels

On 11 February 2016 Syrian Kurds captured the military airport of Minnegh from the Syrian rebels.

Minnegh was part of the rebels’ northern enclave near the Turkish border, currently under heavy attack by the Assad’s forces. The Kurds from their own Afrin enclave use the situation to expand their territory at the rebels’ expense.

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Syrian rebels’ northern enclave faces possible destruction

After breaking the siege of Nubl and Zahraa, Syrian regime forces launched attack northward. By 8 February they were engaged in fighting for Kafr Naya, just 5 kilometers south of the rebel-held town of Tall Rifat.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds from the Afrin enclave use the situation to expand their territory by taking areas from the rebels before regime’s forces capture them. After taking a number of villages in recent days, on 8 February they took the town of Deir Jamal.

As a result of the regime and Kurdish advance, the northern enclave of the rebels near the Turkish border, with the towns of Azaz, Tall Rifat and Morea among others, has been cut from the rest of the rebel-held territory and faces serious threat of annihilation.

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Syrian Democratic Forces capture territory from Al Nusra

On 1 January 2016 Syrian Democratic Forces – an American-backed alliance of Syrian Kurds and Arab militias – captured area in north-western Syria from the Al Qaeda-linked group Al Nusra.

The captured area is located east of the Kurdish-controlled Afrin and includes the town of Tanab.

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Syrian Democratic Forces liberate Tishrin dam from Daesh [ISIS]

On 26 December 2015 Syrian Democratic Forces – an alliance of Syrian Kurds and a number of Arab rebel groups supported by the U.S. – captured Tishrin dam from Daesh.

SDF had launched their southward offensive from the area of town Sarrin days ago. With the capture of Tishrin dam their first objective has been accomplished.

The development is quite significant. Tishrin dam is also strategic bridge between eastern and western banks of Euphrates. While Daesh still can move to their territory on the western bank through other bridges closer to Ar Raqqah, loss of Tishrin dam will hamper their communication with the front lines in Alleppo Province.

Another significant factor is the fact that capture of Tishrin dam brings mortal enemies of Daesh closer to their capital of Ar Raqqah, yet Daesh has not been able to stop their advance so far. This could imply increasing vulnerability of Daesh as a geopolitical and military entity.

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ISIS loses Al Hawl

It turns out that Islamic State has suffered another defeat at the hands of the Kurds. Syrian Kurds, in alliance with the Arab Syrian rebels, as well as the local Christian and tribal Arab groups, launched attack against IS in the area of Syria-Iraq border, west of Sinjar and east of Al Hasakah. On 11 November 2015 they took village Al-Khatuniyah, and on 13 November, the same day when Sinjar was liberated from IS, they took the town of Al Hawl as well.

This is another defeat of the IS by the Kurds, who have so far proved its most formidable local opponents on the front lines.

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