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article imageKurds win Syria-Iraq border crossing from Al-Qaeda-linked rebels

By Ken Hanly     Oct 28, 2013 in World
Damascus - After three days of fighting on the Syrian side of the border at the Yaaroubiyeh border crossing Kurdish forces have ousted fighters from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) and also the Jabhat al Nusra Front.
Al Qaeda-linked rebels had controlled both sides of the crossing for some time, allowing them to ship fighters and arms back and forth. They have been trying to take parts of West Kurdistan but are facing fierce resistance from Kurdish fighters. The capture of the crossing will also link Iraqi Kurdistan with parts of Syrian controlled by Kurds. This may encourage even more autonomy for Kurdish areas of Syria. Kurdish leaders in Iraq have been talking openly about becoming more involved in the Kurdish controlled areas of Syria.
An Iraqi intelligence official said: "There were heavy battles in which all types of weapons were used. Iraqi forces are ready to repel any attack." Witnesses said there were casualties on both sides. The border crossing had been under control of the Assad government but was captured by hard line Islamist rebels back in March. Government media reports claim that the head of Jabhat al Nusra, Abu Al-Golani had been killed in the province of Latakia but rebel groups have denied these reports. The Nusra Front has been among the more effective forces fighting against the Assad regime.
One report gives an alternative name, or at least spelling, for the border crossing: 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 Kurds have been trying to take control of more territory in the northeastern region of Syria adjacent to Kurdish controlled areas of Iraq. The al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups have fought not only with the Kurds but also elements of the western-backed Free Syrian Army for control of territory.
More about Jabhat alNusra, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurds in Syria, Syrian civil war
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