Syrian Rebels Seize Most of ISIS Stronghold Near Turkish Border

The seize is one of a string of captures that erodes ISIS' last foothold in an area identified by the U.S. as a priority in the fight against the organization.

Suleiman Al-Khalidi
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Fighters from the Free Syrian Army's Al-Tahrir Brigade rest near their flag on the outskirts of Rakka, June 2015.Credit: Reuters
Suleiman Al-Khalidi

REUTERS - Syrian rebel forces on Thursday took over most of a town near the Turkish border that had been a stronghold of ISIS, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a rebel source said.

The monitor said factions fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, some of whom are supplied with arms by Turkey and other foreign backers, had captured most of the previously ISIS-held town of al-Rai in northern Aleppo province.

A sustained rebel advance near the Turkish border this week that allowed them to capture a string of villages erodes ISIS' last foothold in an area identified by the United States as a priority in the fight against ISIS.

Rebels who have previously struggled to make gains against ISIS in the area and had been in recent weeks fending off advances by Kurdish-led fighters had mobilized several thousand fighters for the attack, rebel sources said.

An alliance of rebel groups formed for the offensive includes the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad and Failaq al Sham groups.