Syrian Kurdish fighters on Sunday closed in on an Islamic State-held town on the Turkish border in an offensive to cut a key supply line to the capital of the militants’ self-declared caliphate, Raqqa, local reports said.
Kurdish forces are 4 kilometers from the road linking Tal Abyad and Raqqa, which lies 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the south, pro-Kurdish Firat news agency reported Sunday on its website.
Capturing Tal Abyad would allow Kurdish forces to link Kurdish-held areas along the Turkish border, creating a larger unified front against the Islamic militants in Syria, who are under intensified attacks in Iraq.
Thousands of civilians, carrying children in their arms and belongings on their back, crossed into Turkey on foot from Tal Abyad on Sunday, NTV television footage showed. Turkish troops deployed armored cars near the border crossing after suspected Islamic State militants, wearing masks, were spotted on the Syrian side of the border on Sunday, Hurriyet newspaper said.
About 15,000 people have arrived in Turkey over the past two weeks, fleeing U.S.-led aerial attacks that targeted Islamic State militants around Tal Abyad, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
Turkey already hosts about 2 million refugees from Syria and Iraq.