ISIS takes advantage of Syria ceasefire, attacks Kurds north Raqqa

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Kurdish female fighters of the YPJ joining the fight against ISIS north Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

TEL ABYAD – With the start of a U.N.-sponsored two-week ceasefire in Syria, militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) launched a fierce offensive on areas held by Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) on the border with Turkey, military sources reported on Saturday.

ISIS militants attacked Kurdish positions in the vicinity of Tel Abyad city north of Raqqa province, using car bombs and mortar fire.

“The terror group attacked YPG headquarters in Tel Abyad from two directions. The offensive started in the midnight on Saturday where ISIS launched mortar shells from its strongholds in Raqqa on the Kurdish positions in Tel Abyad, while several car bombs hit the YPG checkpoints in eastern Tel Abyad coming from the Turkish border-line,” the YPG leadership said in a statement. 

Speaking to ARA News in Tel Abyad, YPG spokesman Hebun Osman said that scores of Kurdish fighters were killed and injured during the attacks.

The source confirmed that the ISIS-led offensive hit YPG security checkpoints and headquarters in Tel Abyad and five nearby villages, including Sharghrat, Kantari, Nastleh, Ghuwera and Qantrah. 

“Daesh terrorists have taken advantage of the current ceasefire in Syria and attacked our headquarters in this area,” Osman said, using an acronym for ISIS. “Our forces were eventually able to repel the attack on Tel Abyad after clashes with the militants.” 

However, ISIS fighters captured main parts of the villages of Hamam al-Turkman and Mastal near Tel Abyad city after Saturday’s offensive, the YPG official said. 

The Kurdish YPG forces had recaptured the strategic city of Tel Abyad on the border with Turkey in June, subsequent to fierce battles against ISIS militants. Liberating Tel Abyad and its countryside caused a state of alert among ISIS militants, especially for its location in northern Raqqa –the group’s de facto capital in Syria. 

Cessation of Hostilities in Syria 

A cessation of hostilities in Syria came into effect at the agreed time of midnight on Saturday, under a U.S.-Russian plan whichwarring sides in the five-year conflict have said would to commit to.

Syria’s government and insurgents have said they would respect the halt to fighting.

The UN Security Council threw its weight Friday behind a ceasefire agreement for Syria and demanded that it be upheld.

The council unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by Russia and the United States that endorses the ceasefire deal and “demands that the cessation of hostilities to begin at midnight (Damascus time)”.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said Friday Syria’s government and rebels will re-start peace talks on March 7 if a ceasefire holds and more aid is delivered.

Reporting: Haytham Haci

Source: ARA News

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