Three days of “heavy battles” along the Syrian side of the Iraqi border are over, according to reports, and Kurdish militiamen have defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters, claiming control over the Yaaroubiyeh border crossing.
The toll of the fighting is unclear, though witnesses said that there were deaths on both sides. Al-Qaeda has increasingly been trying to encroach into West Kurdistan, the northeastern portion of Syria, but has faced stiff resistance in recent months.
The loss of the crossing could be a major blow to al-Qaeda factions in Syria, as they have used control on both sides of the Iraqi border to ship fighters and weapons around with impunity.
On the other hand, the capture of the crossing by Syrian Kurds effectively links Syrian Kurdistan with Iraqi Kurdistan, at a time when the Syrians are looking to establish de facto autonomy in the face of a civil war, and as the Iraqi Kurdish leaders have been openly talking about more direct involvement in the region.