US-led jets strike Islamic State in northeast Syria: Monitor

Reuters , Saturday 14 Mar 2015

Kurdish
Fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) prepare their weapons in the Assyrian village of Tal Jumaa, north of Tal Tamr town February 25, 2015 (Photo:Reuters)

US-led jets have struck Islamic State positions in northeast Syria in an area where the militants have been battling Kurdish forces, a group monitoring the war said on Saturday.

The air strikes hit areas close to the town of Tal Tamer, south of the Turkish border, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It was the first time the US-led coalition hit the area since last month, the Observatory's founder Rami Abdulrahman said, citing sources on the ground.

The Kurdish YPG militia, backed by US-led air strikes, had made significant gains in recent weeks against Islamic State in northern Syria, cutting an important supply route from territory controlled by the militant group in Iraq.

But Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in areas it controls, appeared to try to seize back the initiative on Tuesday, attacking Kurdish fighters using tanks and heavy weapons close to the Turkish border.

The YPG has emerged as the main partner for the US-led alliance fighting Islamic State on the ground in Syria.

Backed by Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and air strikes, the YPG defeated Islamic State in the border town of Kobane in January. The battle for Kobane was the first publicly-declared example of US-led forces closely coordinating militarily with a ground force to battle Islamic State.

The United States says it wants to train and equip non-jihadist groups to fight the group elsewhere in Syria and the training was due to get underway in Jordan this month. It is not clear which rebel fighters it plans to train.

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