by WorldTribune Staff, June 29, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) jihadists have turned back an offensive by U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near a key supply route linking the terror group’s territory in Syria and Iraq.
The U.S.-trained New Syrian Army (NSA), backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, seized a small airbase near the Abu Kamal border crossing but ISIL launched a counter-attack and recaptured it, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on June 29.
“The attack failed. They lost control of the airport,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, adding that NSA units were still inside the oil-rich Deir Ezzor province, but had been forced to retreat.
NSA spokesman Muzahem al-Sallum confirmed that the rebels were no longer in control of the airport, but were preparing “the next phase” of their offensive. “We retreated towards the desert around Abu Kamal,” he told AFP.
NSA, in coordination with Iraqi troops on the other side of the border, had launched the offensive on June 28 and were aiming to sever ISIL’s supply route between eastern Syria and Iraq’s western Anbar province.
ISIL seized the Abu Kamal crossing in mid-2014, when it overran swathes of territory on both sides of the border.