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Activists: Kurdish Forces Advance Against IS Militants in Syria

Raqqa, Syria
Raqqa, Syria

Activists say Kurdish fighters have made advances toward an Islamic State stronghold in Syria near the Turkish border, amid intense fighting between the two sides.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday the main Syrian Kurdish fighting force (YPG), backed by rebels and coalition warplanes, advanced farther into the IS-bastion province of Raqa in northern Syria, in a bid to capture the key border town of Tal Abyad.

The observatory said Kurdish forces laid siege to the Islamic State-held town of Salouk, about 10 kilometers from Tal Abyad.

The fighting has forced thousands of residents of Tal Abyad to flee to Turkey. Hundreds of Syrian refugees gathered near the Turkish border Saturday in an attempt to escape the violence.

Kurdish forces have been planning a major offensive against Islamic State in Syria. Kurdish fighters, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, recaptured the contested town of Kobani near Turkey early this year and have since been chipping away at IS control in other areas along the border.