Daesh goes on the offensive against Syrian opposition

Daesh militants captured several villages from Syrian opposition groups in a counter-attack near the Turkish border that forced them to retreat, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported today.

The Syrian rebels, whom Turkey has supported with tanks and airstrikes, had been pushing towards the Daesh stronghold of Dabiq, a village with symbolic importance to the militants.

The Daesh attack, which began late on Friday, retook villages including Akhtarin and pushed towards Turkman Bareh, some three kilometres east of Dabiq, the SOHR said.

The SOHR are a British-based organisation which tracks the war using contacts on the ground.

Turkey’s military said two Syrian rebels had been killed and nine wounded in fighting against Daesh. It said Turkish warplanes struck 14 Daesh targets over the last 24 hours and that an airstrike by the US-led coalition killed two Daesh militants.

Ankara launched its first major military incursion into Syria in August, deploying tanks and warplanes to support Syrian opposition forces it backs against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad in an operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” that targets both Daesh and Kurdish militants.

Turkish attacks against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia have caused tension with Washington, for whom the YPG has been a partner on the ground for its air campaign against Daesh.

Turkey says that the YPG are connected to the Turkish-Kurd separatists of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), an organisation both Ankara and Washington view as a terrorist organisation.

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