While ISIS has been advancing on other fronts in Iraq, it is being smashed in the north of Syria, in the Kurdish region of Rojava. There, joint forces belonging to the YPG, YPJ, as well as allied FSA groups such as Burkan al-Firat (Euphrates Volcano) are advancing at rapid pace from two directions, in order to capture the city of Tel Abyad. Taking this city would deny ISIS an important border crossing with Turkey, and unite the two Kurdish cantons of Kobane and Cizire into one singular YPG-controlled region. In the past few days, these joint forces, backed with Coalition airstrikes have managed to make massive gains against ISIS, especially on the eastern front near Cizire Canton. There, YPG forces have advanced tens of kilometres from previously static positions and managed to encircle the ISIS-controlled town of Suluk.
In order to find out more about the situation in the region and the way the battle against ISIS was progressing, Conflict News spoke to ‘Aras’ a YPG fighter currently stationed near the frontline in Cizire Canton.
He confirmed that the town of Suluk has been surrounded, but not captured by the YPG, who instead are pressing their attack towards Tel Abyad.
“The city of Suluk is completely surrounded, and the YPG is now only 8km away from Tel Abyad,” he explained. “North of Suluk the YPG is advancing along the two main roads towards Tel Abyad.”
When asked about the level of resistance which ISIS has been putting up against the YPG advance he characterised it as increasing.
“ISIS resistance has increased the further we push into their territories – they are now using suicide bombings and human shields. This is their primary tactic.”
He also explained that Coalition airstrikes, mainly conducted by the US Air Force, were harming ISIS’s ability to effectively fight the YPG.
“They [ISIS] are unable to move freely around their territory due to Coalition airstrikes.”
Finally, he expressed confidence that the YPG and their allies could see a rapid victory in the region.
“It depends on the level of coalition air support – if we can continue to see similar progress to that of the last 24 hours, we will liberate Tel Abyad within a week.”
Should the YPG manage to pull this off, it would be a large-scale victory against ISIS in Syria. Just north of Tel Abyad lies a border crossing with Turkey, which is incredibly important to the terrorist group as an entry point for foreign fighters, as well as illegally bought arms and other supplies. Denying ISIS this crossing would weaken their ability to wage war across a large region of Syria.