by WorldTribune Staff, May 29, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has launched its biggest offensive in Syria’s Aleppo province in two years and gained territory from rebel forces near the Turkish border.
ISIL captured territory from Syrian rebels on May 28 and inched closer to a town on a supply route for foreign-backed insurgents fighting the militants, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The rebels, who are supplied via Turkey, staged a major push against ISIL last month, but the terror group counter-attacked.
The United States has identified the area north of Syria’s former commercial hub Aleppo as a priority in the fight against ISIL.
The offensive brought ISIL within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of Azaz, a town near the border with Turkey through which insurgents have been supplied.
Doctors Without Borders said it evacuated patients and staff from a hospital in the area as the fighting got closer, and that tens of thousands of people were trapped between the front lines and the Turkish border.
At least 29 civilians have been killed since ISIL launched the assault on May 28, the Syrian Observatory reported.
At least 61 rebel fighters have been killed in the fighting, as well as 47 ISIL jihadists, nine of them suicide bombers, the Observatory said.
Meanwhile, Al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate Nusra Front and other insurgents on May 27 seized control of a town south of Damascus from government forces.
Nusra Front said in a statement it had captured Deir Khabiyeh, which is near an area where government forces and allies have sought to tighten control of a road leading south.