ISIS Loss of Syria Border Town ‘Biggest Setback’ So Far

UN: 23,000 From City of Tel Abyad Have Fled to Turkey

While most of the fighting over Tel Abyad, an important border town between Syria and Turkey, was wrapped up yesterday, several groups today confirmed that the town has entirely fallen under the control of Kurdish YPG forces, and are calling it the “biggest setback” ISIS has faced so far.

Obviously, when we say “biggest setback” we’re only referring to losses since the group renamed itself ISIS, because al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had several setbacks during the US occupation, and was getting downright puny and irrelevant in the period after the US left and before the Syria Civil War broke out.

But Tel Abyad is important as the primary supply route from Turkey into the ISIS capital city of Raqqa. The YPG are presenting the ease of taking Tel Abyad as a shift in momentum, and are promising to move on and take Raqqa, but the sheer lack of resistance in Tel Abyad is surprising everyone, and might suggest the town isn’t nearly as important to ISIS as everyone seems to think.

At any rate, the fall of the town to Kurdish forces has led to another influx of Arab civilians into neighboring Turkey, some 23,000 new ones by the UN’s count, and Turkey is increasingly complaining about the US-backed Kurds making gains against ISIS territory, on the grounds that it is leaving Turkey with both the headache of refugees and the headache of a big Kurdish autonomous region on the border with their own Kurdish region full of secessionists.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of