Kurds Advance on Key Syrian Border Town, Threatening ISIS Supply Route

Refugees Flock to Turkish Border as Fighting Picks Up

Kurdish YPG forces are advancing this weekend against the ISIS-held town of Tel Abyad, the primary route from the ISIS capital of Raqqa to the Turkish border, and are threatening to cut off that key supply route for the Islamists.

YPG officials are confirming coordination with the US military on the attack, and several airstrikes carried out against ISIS forces in the town, the number of which is said to be growing as civilians flee the area toward the Turkish border.

ISIS still controls the town and the border road, but Kurdish officials say they believe it is “only a matter of time” before they take the area, a move which itself threatens to fuel more Turkish anger about the US government’s close alliance with Kurdish forces in Syria.

Turkey has complained that the US is allied with Kurdish factions, like the YPG, which are considered “terrorist” organizations in Turkey, and fears Kurdish growth along the border threatens to ignite a new secessionist war among Kurds inside southeastern Turkey. If nothing else, it is saddling the region with tens of thousands of new Arab refugees, as the Kurds are accused of chasing the Arabs out of the regions “liberated” from ISIS.

Given how important Tel Abyad is to ISIS, it is unthinkable that the town will fall easily to the YPG advance, and even with US air support this is likely to be a protracted battle for control over the border crossing, one which ISIS will bring as many fighters as necessary to hold.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.