Syria rebels oust ISIS, reopen supply route
ALEPPO - Syrian rebels ousted the Islamic State group from two villages near the Turkish border on Wednesday, re-opening a key supply route for opposition forces in northern Aleppo, a monitor said.
IS had captured several villages between the rebel-held northern towns of Marea and Azaz on May 27, cutting off rebel forces in Marea from their supply line with Turkey and forcing thousands of people to flee.
But on Wednesday morning rebels including several Islamist groups launched simultaneous attacks from the two towns to squeeze IS fighters out, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
IS "did not fight hard, but rather withdrew, as they are facing attacks on numerous fronts in northern Syria," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
Marea and the border town of Azaz, 20 kilometres (12 miles) to the northwest, have been in rebel hands since 2012.
The jihadist assault also threatened tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering in makeshift camps next to the Turkish border.
IS controls a band of territory along the Turkish border from parts of Aleppo province to the group's stronghold of Raqa on the Euphrates river to the east.
The group is under pressure from simultaneous attacks that threaten its supply lines from the Turkish border down to Raqa.
US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters are advancing towards the IS-held town of Manbij in an attempt to cut off the jihadists' supplies of recruits and funds across the Turkish border.
Russian-backed regime forces are also advancing towards Syria's largest dam and the adjacent IS-held town of Tabqa, another key point along IS supply lines to Raqa.