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Syrian Democratic Forces make gains against Islamic State in Syria's al-Hasakah province

The joint force of Arab, Kurdish and Assyrian rebel groups announced an offensive in al-Hasakah province.

By Fred Lambert
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Syrian Democratic Forces make gains against Islamic State in Syria's al-Hasakah province
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, walk on a road in northern Syria on March 19, 2013. A joint force of Arab, Kurdish and Assyrian rebels on Tuesday continued making gains against Islamic State forces during a U.S.-backed offensive in Syria's al-Hasakah province. Photo by fpolat69/Shutterstock

AL-HOUL, Syria, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed alliance of Arab, Kurdish and Assyrian rebel groups, is making gains against Islamic State forces in northeastern Syria's al-Hasakah province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday reported the SDF, with help from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, captured a farm and village from IS forces northeast of the provincial capital and advanced against the militants in the town of Homr, killing at least seven IS fighters, including a Dagestani commander.

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Additionally, SDF units seized two gas stations, a hill and at least five posts on the Iraqi border, SOHR said. The gains came as part of fighting in the eastern countryside of al-Hasakah near the town of al-Houl.

SOHR on Monday reported the SDF killed five IS militants, injured 10 and captured another three during fighting in the area.

The joint force seized the village of Ghzila on Monday, while unidentified gunmen killed an IS member in the Adla area south of the city of Shaddadi, an IS stronghold in al-Hasakah province, according to SOHR.

On Saturday the SDF announced it was launching an offensive to liberate al-Hasakah province of IS militants, saying it was "the first step of our military action within a plan of liberating the whole [of] Syria from the terrorist gangs."

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The group, which was unveiled last month with U.S. support, comprises a series of units under the Syrian Arab Coalition, The Syriac Military Council and Kurdish forces known as the People's Defense Units, or YPG, and the Women's Defense Units, or YPJ.

SDF advances come as Russia, which has since late September conducted airstrikes on behalf of Syrian government forces, downplayed its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with officials saying it was up to the Syrian people to decide the country's leadership.

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