ISIL recaptures key supply town on Turkey border, executes Christians

Special to

Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has taken back a key supply town at the Syria-Turkey border after losing the town last week to a rebel alliance that includes Al Qaida’s Syria affiliate.

ISIL jihadists on April 11 recaptured Al-Rai from rebel forces who are allied with Al Qaida affiliate Nusra Front, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The town serves as a key access point for ISIL’s supply lines from Turkey.

Al-Rai is located close to the border with Turkey and a key supply route into IS-held territory. /Islamic Front
Al-Rai is located close to the border with Turkey and is a key supply route into ISIL-held territory. /Islamic Front

ISIL lost Al-Rai after heavy fighting on April 7.

The Russian military General Staff said on April 11 that Nusra Front was massing its forces around the Syrian city of Aleppo and are planning a large-scale offensive. Sergei Rudskoy, head of the General Staff’s main operations command, said Nusra Front intends to cut off the road between Aleppo and the Syrian capital of Damascus.

“Nusra and allied rebel groups are waging three synchronized offensives” on front lines in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Nusra jihadists recently seized a hilltop in Latakia province, the heartland of President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect, Abdel Rahman said. “This is the offensive that Nusra warned it would carry out several weeks ago.”

Meanwhile, reports are surfacing of the slaughter of Syrian Christians by ISIL jihadists in the Syrian town of al-Qaryatain, which was retaken by Russian-backed Syrian forces and their allies last week.

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church, told the BBC that 21 Christians were murdered when ISIL captured the city last August. The patriarch said 300 Christians remained in al-Qaryatain after ISIL moved in.

He said some died while trying to escape while others were killed for breaking the terms of their “dhimmi contracts,” which require them to submit to the rule of Islam. ISIL also abducted dozens of Christians and ransomed them to their families.