Syrian Kurds press big offensive against IS in northeast of Syria

Kurdish militia pressed a big offensive against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northeast Syria Feb. 25, cutting one of its supply lines from Iraq, as fears mounted for dozens of Christians abducted by the hardline group that recently beheaded 21 Egyptian Copts.
The new Kurdish offensive launched at the weekend was focused on dislodging ISIL from areas some 100 kilometer further to the east, including Tel Hamis, a town that is one of its strongholds.
The Observatory said at least 132 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the fighting since Feb. 21. Mahmoud, the Kurdish official, said seven members of the Kurdish YPG militia had been killed, including one foreigner. 
In a telephone interview from the city of Qamishli, he said the YPG had cut a main road linking Tel Hamis with al-Houl, a town just a few kilometres from the Iraqi border.
“This is the main artery for Daesh,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State. The Kurdish YPG militia had seized more than 100 villages from Islamic State in the area, he added.
“We believe we will finish the battle of Tel Hamis in this campaign,” he added.
The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, last month drove ISIL from the Syrian town of Kobane, since when further signs of strain have been seen in the group’s ranks.
The Syriac National Council of Syria says ISIL seized 150 Assyrian Christians from villages in Hassakeh province in a mass abduction coinciding with the offensive in the same region by Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led air strikes.
The Assyrian Christians were taken from villages near the town of Tel Tamr, some 20 kilometers to the northwest of the city of Hassakeh. There has been no word on their fate. There have been conflicting reports on where the Christians had been taken.

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