Islamic State (Isis) forces launched a fierce counteroffensive aimed at taking the border town of al-Rai and its surrounding towns. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor reported that the town fell to IS after fierce skirmishes with rebels.

 

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“The fact that the rebels could not hold on to al-Rai shows that it is impossible to maintain an advance against Isis without adequate air cover,” the Observatory’s director, Rami Abdul Rahman, told AFP.

 

The border town is important to the militants because it is located on the road to IS-controlled areas in Syria’sAleppo province.

 

According to AhlulBayt News Agency, the IS retreat triggered a direct conflict between the YPG and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which gave theIslamist militants the opportunity and manpower to shore up its defence forces around Al-bab, its administrative capital of Aleppo and also one of Daesh’s last strongholds in northeastern Syria.

 

“Daesh fighters have withdrawn from several villages on the outskirts of Jarablus and are heading south towards the city of al-Bab,” said a commander with the Failaq al-Sham group, according to the Daily Sabah.