NE Syria: Kurdish-led SDF besiege strategic IS stronghold

The Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) besieged a strategic town occupied by the Islamic State (IS) in northeastern Syria.

HASAKA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – On Friday, the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) besieged a strategic town occupied by the Islamic State (IS) in northeastern Syria.

According to the Kurdistan24 reporter embedded at al-Shadadi frontline, the SDF liberated nearly four villages from IS and advanced towards the strategic IS stronghold of Markadah south of al-Shadadi.

The victory follows the liberation of the IS stronghold of al-Shadadi two months ago.

Senior SDF commanders around Markadah, who preferred not to reveal their names for security reasons as well as waiting for an official statement by the SDF leadership, spoke to Kurdistan24 on Friday.

“Our forces managed to liberate the villages of Shamsani, Hamrah, Zenat and Kashkash on the outskirts of Markadah from [IS] insurgents,” the commanders stated.

The group added that Markadah will be liberated soon since it has been occupied by the SDF for more than a week.

“Supported by the US-led international coalition fighter jets, the Markadah campaign of liberation has until now freed extensive areas around the town,” commanders said.

After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Markadah was held by the Syrian al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front. However, in March 2014, after intense fighting erupted between Al-Nusra Front and IS that lasted for nearly two weeks, IS captured the town.

The SDF, founded in October 2015, liberated several IS strongholds in north and northeast Syria. The first was the liberation of Al-Hawl south of Hasakah in November 2015, and then in the south of Kobani where they liberated 50 villages, followed by the liberation of Tishrin Dam on Dec. 26, 2015.

On Feb. 10, SDF announced the control of Mengh and its military airport, north of Aleppo, Syria.

On Feb. 16, SDF launched a three-day military campaign termed “Wrath of Khabour” culminating in the SDF leadership announcing al-Shaddadi's liberation on Feb. 19.

Although the media presents the SDF as an inclusive force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the primary element of the coalition and outnumbers all other groups.


Reporting by Hisham Arafat

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany