Saturday, October 26, 2013

Syrian Kurds rout al-Qaeda jihadists on Iraq border

Damascus (AFP) - Syrian Kurds drove jihadists from an Iraq border crossing in fierce clashes Saturday, activists said, as the UN-Arab League envoy took his regional peace mission to regime ally Iran.

Fighters from both sides were killed, a day after Syria's regime and its opponents traded blame for a car bomb attack on a mosque that left dozens dead.

The Kurds "took control of the Al-Yaarubia border crossing with Iraq at dawn after clashes with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Al-Nusra Front and other rebels," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, citing activists. [...]

The loss of Al-Yaarubia would deny ISIL -- an Al-Qaeda affiliate that has carried out major attacks on both sides of the border -- a vital conduit for fighters and arms.

Meanwhile, the Al-Nusra Front, another Al-Qaeda-linked group, denied a Syrian state TV report that its leader, Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani, had been killed.

On other battlefronts, rebels seized the town of Tafas, which links the eastern and western sectors of Daraa province along the Jordanian border, the Observatory said.

And scores have been killed in clashes over the past week between troops and rebels for control of a large, highly strategic arsenal in Mahin, in the central province of Homs, it added.

"There have been at least 100 killed from among the ranks of the army and dozens more among the rebels and jihadists, which include foreign fighters," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.