al-bab.jpg
al-Bab
Photograph: Google maps

A US-backed Syrian alliance, which dealt a major setback to Islamic State this week, announced on Sunday the formation of a military council to capture a strategic northern town from the extremist militia.

The Democratic Forces of Syria (DFS), an alliance of Kurds and Arabs, said that the council comprising affiliated factions had been set up to "liberate" the town of al-Bab from the control of Islamic State.

Al-Bab is located west of the town of Minbij. The DFS announced on Friday Minbij's "liberation" from Islamic State after a campaign backed by US-led airstrikes that started in late May.

The factions forming the al-Bab military council called on locals to join their forces in fighting Islamic State.

"We also call on the US-led international alliance to support us in our struggle," they added in a joint statement.

"Our council will work to confront Daesh terrorists, being the people's enemy," the council's chief Jamal Moussa, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State, said at a press conference in a village near al-Bab.

Capturing al-Bab would completely cut Islamic State's links with the Turkish border, as well as linking up the main Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria with the enclave of Efrin in the north-west.

But any such move would also be likely to inflame relations between the DFS, rival Syrian opposition forces and Turkey, which is wary of the Kurds' links with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party inside its territory.

Latest news

Germany's record surplus sets off debate about using extra cash

Germany's budget surplus continued to grow last year, reaching its highest level since the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 and setting off a debate about what to do with the extra cash.

Croatian PM says gov't has no influence on appointment of Podravka managers

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday the appointment of new management board members in the Podravka food company was in the remit of the supervisory board and that neither he nor the ministers had any influence on talks at the supervisory board.

Australian archbishops call abuse probe a 'catastrophic failure'

The Australian Catholic Church's handling of a child sex abuse scandal has been a "catastrophic failure" and amounted to "criminal negligence," blasted the country's archbishops Thursday.

WHO: More than 300 million suffer from depression as world ages

The global number of people with depression has risen by 18 per cent to 322 million in the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, demanding greater attention for high-risk groups.

Ukrainian lawmaker, vocal critic of Russian government, abducted

Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko, an adamant critic of the Russian government, has been abducted by a "group of unknown people," state media reported Thursday, quoting the Odessa regional prosecutors office.

Australian ex-PM slams Netanyahu for 'torpedoing' peace process

Former Australian premier Kevin Rudd has accused Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu of "torpedoing" peace negotiations in the Middle East.

Weekly "Novosti" dismisses NGO's accusations

The newspaper today also dismissed all accusations the NGO presented at a recent news conference, and retorted that the NGO's criticism were ill-intended and untrue accusations.

Sixteen killed in fighting between army and rebels in Congo

Sixteen fighters from the reactivated Congolese rebel movement M23 have been killed during two days of fighting with the army in the east of the country, a military spokesman said Thursday.

Maltese FM on behalf of EU calls for preservation of stability in BiH

Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella said in Sarajevo on Thursday that his country, as the current chair of the European Union, closely followed the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and other parts of the Western Balkans.

Croatia-Hungary committee on minorities meets after four-year hiatus

The Croatia-Hungary Intergovernmental Committee for the implementation of the agreement on the protection of the rights of the respective ethnic minorities met in Zagreb on Thursday after a four-year hiatus.

Syrian rebels claim full control of al-Bab, defeating IS

Syrian rebels backed by Turkey said Thursday they are fully in control of al-Bab, wresting it from Islamic State after a military campaign that began in November and cost hundreds of lives.

HURS says Croatia fails to create conditions for long-term growth

The Croatian Association of Workers' Trade Unions (HURS) warned on Thursday that a report which the European Commission released on Wednesday showed that Croatia had failed to create conditions for a long-term economic growth, adding that the situation in the Podravka food company suggested the continuation of the trend of shutting down jobs in the production sector.