Syrian conflict: rebels wrest al-Rai from the Islamic State

The northern town on route connecting Syria and Turkey. Strategic for the passage of goods and supplies. A major success ahead of main battle for control of Aleppo. On the outskirts of Damascus jihadists attack a factory and seize 200 workers.


Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian rebels have torn control of al-Rai from the Islamic State (IS), a strategically important town in northern Syria. It is a major military success for the non- jihadist opposition, already committed in the battle for the conquest of Aleppo, the second most important city in the country.

Al-Rai was taken yesterday after days of heavy fighting between the warring sides; it guarantees the rebels control of a vital supply route linking Syria to Turkey.

Local sources said that an alliance of local "rebel Islamists factions and " has taken hold of the city; Now they can cut off the supply lines to the Islamic State militias, engaged in a fierce battle in Aleppo.

Analysts and experts point out that now al-Rai will become the base for attacks against the jihadists in the east and south of the country. The main danger is represented by anti-personnel mines planted by Daesh [the Arabic acronym for IS] before their retreat, as well as anti-tank mines and suicide bombers ready to blow themselves up.

In recent weeks the IS suffered heavy defeats on the ground, including the loss of Palmyra, an ancient town east of Damascus, which is back under government control since late March.

The cease-fire - which excludes Daesh and other jihadist groups, including the Nusra Front - has reduced the number of civilian casualties, in the context of a war that in five years has caused 270 thousand deaths and generated a humanitarian crisis without precedent, with millions of refugees.

Meanwhile at least 200 people are missing in Damascus following a jihadist attack on a factory in the outskirts of the capital. The workers were kidnapped while they were in the dormitory, in Dumeir (40 km east of Damascus), where there has been heavy fighting between the army and Daesh. Another 140 workers managed to escape; at the moment there is no news on the fate of the kidnapped workers.

SIRIA_-_udpdate_guerraalRai.jpg