Kurdish fighters in Syria have seized a major border crossing with Iraq from al-Qaeda-linked groups, which had held the crossing since March, according to activists and an Iraqi official.
The Kurdish fighters captured the Yaarabiya post in northeast Syria on Saturday after three days of clashes with several rebel groups there, including Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
The clashes left fighters dead on both sides, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
An Iraqi intelligence official confirmed that Kurdish rebels now held the crossing point, one of the two main crossings with Iraq, adding that Baghdad brought reinforcements to the area to prevent any spillover of violence.
“They were heavy battles in which all types of weapons were used,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. “Iraqi forces are ready to repel any attack.”
Kurdish groups control a large swath of northern Syria, and have come into conflict with certain rebel groups who have moved into predominantly Kurdish areas in the chaos of the civil war.
Clashes between them in northern and northeastern areas of Syria have killed hundreds of people in the past months.
The border crossing point was under government control until March when hard-line rebels captured it.
Meanwhile in Daraa province, in the south of the country, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory reported that rebels captured the town of Tafas after weeks of fighting that left scores of people dead, though Syrian state media did not report on the battle.