Photo Credit: AFP

As part of the anti-Islamic State (anti-IS) alliance of Syrian Kurds and Arab rebel groups backed by US coalition planes, advances were made against IS, with the seizure of at least one village in Aleppo province, a spokesman and a monitoring group said.

According to Reuters, an interview with spokesman COL Talal Selo revealed that “fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria seized the village of Tanab near the town of Azaz after heavy clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the powerful Ahrar al Sham.”

Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Democratic Forces of Syria had also captured the village of Tat Mrash, although this could not be confirmed by the colonel.

The advance was buoyed by the success made by the capture dam from Islamic State further east, cutting one of its main supply routes across the Euphrates.

Since the U.S.-backed alliance was formed last October, several major offensives have been made against IS owned territories, with the ultimate goal of capturing Raqqa. The U.S. military estimates under their support, the main faction fighting against IS, the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrians, Armenian and Turkmen militias established during the Syrian Civil War, have captured around 1,000 square kilometres of terrain in the past six weeks.

According to Reuters, the alliance has separately been fighting in recent weeks against Nusra Front, Ahrar al Sham and other insurgents in northern Aleppo province, one of which includes the Kurdish YPG militia, which has been the most effective partner on the ground for U.S.-led air strikes.

Washington’s strategy in Syria shifted in 2015 from trying to train thousands of fighters outside the country to supplying groups headed by U.S.-vetted commanders. Its controversial move to sanction the deployment of 50 Special Forces troops back in October was seen as a contradiction of US President Barack Obama’s “No-boots-on-the-ground” policy, although the Pentagon has maintained that its general policy has remained unchanged.

UPDATE: It was later reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human rights that there were further clashes that took place between the Syrian Democratic Forces against Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Levant) and the rebel and Islamic factions in the vicinity of Kasht’aar town in the northern countryside of Aleppo, although major territorial gains since the fall of Ramadi to the Anti-IS coalition have not happened since Ramadi days ago.


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