Rebels push IS back in northern Syria: Monitor

AFP , Saturday 13 Jun 2015

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands in front of graffiti that reads ''Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ) down'' at Masaken Hanano neighborhood in Aleppo January 7, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

A Syrian rebel alliance has pushed Islamic State group jihadists further away from one of its key supply routes from neighbouring Turkey, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

The Islamist rebels ousted IS from the village of Al-Bal, which it captured on Tuesday, threatening the Bab al-Salama border crossing, just 10 kilometres (six miles) away, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The village's recapture late on Friday came after heavy fighting which killed 14 rebels and 15 IS jihadists, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Further south, the two sides battled for the town of Marea, which lies on the road between the crossing and the rebel-held eastern sector of the main northern city of Aleppo.

"The ultimate goal for IS is to cut off this crossing," said Abdel Rahman.

Activists said the rebels were fighting to defend Marea, while simultaneously launching their own attacks on IS positions in the area.

"IS is trying to surround the town by occupying the villages all around it," said Mamun Abu Omar, head of a local pro-rebel press agency.

The rebel alliance is fighting both IS and government forces in Aleppo province, which is one of the most complex battlegrounds of Syria's multi-front civil war.

In some areas, it is supported by fighters of IS's jihadist rival, Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

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