Anti-ISIL moves gain ground in Iraq, Syria
REUTERS photoIraqi forces advanced in west Mosul and fighters in Syria seized a key supply route to Raqqa yesterday as twin U.S.-backed offensives gained ground against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Supported by the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition, Iraqi government forces and a Kurdish-Arab alliance in Syria are battling to push the jihadists from Mosul and Raqqa, the last two major urban centers under their control.
Intense fighting in recent days has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, raising fears for many more civilians still trapped in areas of ISIL’s so-called “caliphate.”
In Iraq, security forces advanced yesterday toward a compound of jihadist-held government buildings and a bridgehead, on the second day of a renewed push in west Mosul.
The operation to retake west Mosul began on February 19, but had slowed amid several days of bad weather until a fresh drive began on March 5.
In Syria, U.S.-backed forces cut off a key supply route between ISIL stronghold Raqqa and the group’s territory in Deir Ezzor province yesterday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, seized control of the only major road linking Raqqa along the Euphrates valley to Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
“The route... linking Raqa to Deir Ezzor was cut this morning,” an SDF commander confirmed.
The SDF launched its offensive for Raqqa in early November and has since seized swathes of territory in northern Syria from the jihadists