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Kurdish Syrian militia captures Islamic State stronghold

Published 19/02/2016

Syria Democratic Forces said their fighters captured the town of Shaddadeh
Syria Democratic Forces said their fighters captured the town of Shaddadeh

A predominantly Kurdish militia force in Syria has captured a major stronghold from the Islamic State group in the country's north east, according to activists and officials.

Syria Democratic Forces fighters captured the town of Shaddadeh after sunset on Friday, said spokesman Talal Sillo.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the town fell to SDF forces under the cover of air strikes by the US-led coalition.

SDF has become one of the most effective forces fighting IS and the capture of Shaddadeh boosts the group's image as a faction fighting the extremists.

Mr Sillo said: "We have fully liberated Shaddadeh," adding that the next step is to remove booby traps and explosives left behind by extremists.

Earlier, in a setback to international efforts to resolve Syria's devastating civil war, it was indicated that peace talks will not resume next week.

UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said the talks will not resume in Geneva on February 25 as he had previously hoped.

He said that he cannot "realistically" get the parties in the conflict back to the table by then, "but we intend to do so soon".

Meanwhile, Russia has called for an urgent Security Council meeting over the deteriorating situation at the Turkish border. A statement on the Russian foreign ministry's website said it intends to submit a draft council resolution calling on Turkey to "cease any actions that undermine Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Fighting has fighting intensified in Syria over recent weeks and a deadline to cease military activities was not observed. The US, Russia and other world powers agreed on February 12 on a deal calling for the ceasing of hostilities within a week, the delivery of urgently needed aid to besieged areas of Syria and a return to peace talks in Geneva.

Mr de Mistura halted the latest Syria talks on February 3 because of major differences between the two sides, exacerbated by increased aerial bombings and a wide military offensive by Syrian troops and their allies under the cover of Russian air strikes.

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