Syrian Kurdish forces advanced against militants of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group in two separate attacks in Syria’s Hasakah province near the Iraqi border on Sunday, compounding recent losses for the militant group in Syria.
The Kurdish YPG militia last month flushed the group out of the town of Kobani with the support of Iraqi Kurdish reinforcements on the ground.
Hasakah province in the northeastern corner of Syria is strategically important in the fight against ISIL because it borders areas controlled by the group in Iraq.
In another attack, the YPG advanced to within 5 km (3 miles) of Tel Hamis, 35 km southeast of the city of Qamishli, Kurdish official Nasir Haj Mansour said.
The YPG had decided to launch the attack after ISIL reinforced its positions in the area with foreign fighters.
“Twenty-three farms and villages, big and small, have been liberated,” Mansour told Reuters by telephone.
The Kurdish fighters were giving the coordinates of Islamic State targets to the U.S.-led coalition – the same method used to call in air strikes in the battle for Kobani, he said.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 12 ISIL terrorists were killed in the fighting and confirmed the advance by the YPG. Mansour said 20 ISIL gunmen had been killed.
In the second advance in the northeast, Kurdish fighters took two villages from ISIL at the Iraqi border, helped by heavy shelling by Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces on the other side of the frontier, the Observatory said.
Since driving ISIL from Kobani, the Kurdish forces backed by other Syrian armed groups have pursued the takfiri group as far their provincial stronghold of Raqqa.
Hasakah province in the northeast is one of three areas where the Syrian Kurds have set up their own government since Syria hit by war in 2011.