Kurdish-led military forces announced that they have captured a military base held by ISIS located less than 80 kilometers away from the extremist group's headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. The unprecedented seizure of the Liwa 93 military base comes at a time when ISIS is gaining significant ground in western Syria against the Assad regime and simultaneously clashing with coalition groups deep in #Iraq. Smaller, more moderate Syrian rebel groups and US-led airstrikes assisted in the offensive on the base north of Raqqa, which also saw the capture of the key Tel Abyad border crossing from the jihadi group last week.
In January of this year after four months of fighting the Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as the YPG, defeated ISIS for control of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border. Since then, the YPG have made progress against the jihadis, notably cutting off supply routes from the north. Within Iraq, coalition forces recaptured the city of Tikrit but lost the provincial capital of Anbar, Ramadi, to ISIS. Iraqi Kurds have also been consistently active in opposing ISIS near the autonomous Kurdish region in the northeast of Iraq.
The Turkish government expressed concern over possible ethnic unrest in the region as Kurdish groups liberate and consolidate territory from ISIS in the border areas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK watchdog agency, reported that there have been no cases of systematic abuse by YPG units, though there have been individual cases. The Syrian government has on occasion clashed with Kurdish units, and has recently accused them of "separatist aims."
The advance of Syrian Kurds in the area definitely serves to bolster their legitimacy and bargaining power amidst the perpetual #Conflict in both Syria and Iraq. They now control some 400 kilometers of territory between the Turkish border and ISIS-controlled areas. The Kurds in Syria have stated they are not interested in forming an independent state, but rather wish to pursue greater autonomy within a future state. #War