ISIL extends power in Syria; supply route to Aleppo cut, rights group claims

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By Sarah Taylor  with AFP, Reuters
ISIL extends power in Syria; supply route to Aleppo cut, rights group claims

ISIL jihadists have extended their self-styled caliphate in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports.

Soran Azaz and Aleppo Province

The town of Soran Azaz – a hub for aid agencies – is said to have fallen, cutting off one of the last-remaining supply routes into the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.

ISIL has reportedly advanced on a number of towns in Aleppo Province, close to the Turkish border, pushing back the Levant Front rebel alliance, which includes western-backed fighters and Islamist militants.

Created in Aleppo in December 2014, the Levant Front is a collaboration of factions in Syria, brought together in attempt to forge unity against ISIL.

The Observatory claims ISIL fighters will now be able to move easily along a road leading north towards Turkey, raising fears for the well-being of thousands of civilians trapped in the region.

Between May 31 and June 1, 184 civilians were killed as a result of clashes nationwide, reports suggest.

Residents of Aleppo’s east say convoys of rebel fighters are heading back to the countryside surrounding Soran, in an effort to repel ISIL extremists. The city’s west is held by government forces.

Palmyra control point

An important control point in central Syria is also said to have fallen into the hands of the jihadists. Situated at a strategic crossroad, the checkpoint lies south of the ancient city of Palmyra, which was captured on May 21.

A known prison complex in the city has reportedly been destroyed.

ISIL ‘controls half of Syria’

According to the Observatory, ISIL now controls at least half of Syria. AFP news agency quotes a local MP as saying the balance of power lies on the coast, in the central towns of Hama and Homs and in the capital Damascus.