After days of fierce fighting that sent 20,000 Syrians fleeing, Kurdish forces took control Tuesday of a key Islamic State stronghold along the Turkish border. "The whole city is under our control and there is no more fighting," a Kurdish defense forces commander, Huseyin Kocher, told the BBC.
From across the border in Turkey, Associated Press reporters saw a black-and-white ISIS flag being taken down in Tal Abyad and replaced with the yellow triangular banner of the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that the YPG and some Free Syrian Army allies had wrested Tal Abyad from ISIS. U.S. airstrikes helped the YPG forces advance to the outskirts of the town.
The capture of Tal Abyad is a significant setback for ISIS, which had controlled the key supply hub for more than a year. Tal Abyad connected ISIS's self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa with supplies and foreign recruits arriving from Turkey, and now it will connect YPG strongholds in Iraq with Kobani. "This is not the first time Syrian Kurdish forces dealt a blow to Islamic State," says BBC Kurdish affairs analyst Guney Yildiz. "But if the Kurdish YPG manages to hold on to Tal Abyad, it will be the most serious one."
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.