Starting yesterday at noon, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) began an offensive against ISIS at Harbul, south of the formerly besieged rebel-held city of Mare’.
Exploiting a large-scale ISIS retreat from the Azaz frontline, Kurdish fighters stormed and quickly established control over the villages of Harbul, Bir as-Sabah and Maarat Umm Hawsh.
No further gains were reported, although the YPG seems keen to push further eastwards. The long-term strategic goal of this advance is to build a corridor to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at Manbij, effectively connecting Kurdish areas across northern Syria, a region dubbed as Rojava by Kurdish politicians.
Meanwhile, rebel forces at the Azaz frontline have also gained ground against ISIS, building upon the capture of 10 villages yesterday: the Islamist rebel group Jaish al-Mujahideen captured the villages of Dudiyan, Mazra’at Kafrah, Tilalayn, and Sawran from the Islamic State.
Rebel fighters are reportedly cautious about entering some villages seemingly abandoned by ISIS over fears of booby traps or the sudden detonation of Islamic State VBIED’s.