Syrian rebels advance on IS-held town

Jun 29, 2016, 7:14 AM EDT
Syrian rebels
(Source: Global Panorama/flickr)

U.S.-backed Syrian rebels advanced on the eastern town of Al-Bukamal, which was seized by Islamic State fighters in 2014. The offensive, which began on Tuesday, aims at blocking a strategic junction that connects IS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq.

A statement released by New Syria Army (N.S.A.), which was set up some 18 months ago, claimed that it retook a number of IS positions on the outskirts of the town.

The attack on Al-Bukamal involves several hundred N.S.A. rebels, who have been trained at U.S.-run camps in Jordan, writes the BBC. The campaign is being coordinated with Iraqi troops, who are moving towards the town from the other side of the border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that coalition warplanes were carrying out simultaneous air strikes on IS hideouts. 

U.S.-led coalition forces intensified the assault on Islamic State this month, notes Reuters. The militant group faces a major offensive from an alliance of militias, including the Kurdish Y.P.G., in the city of Manbij in northern Syria.

Earlier this week, Iraqi forces “cleared out the last pocket of IS resistance” in the town of Falluja, after an operation that lasted for more than a month, reports Deutsche Welle