BEIRUT - Kurdish fighters have expelled jihadists from the Syrian flashpoint frontier town of Ras al-Ain near Turkey, a watchdog said Wednesday, adding that only the border crossing remains under the extremists' control.
Kurdish fighters "have taken near-total control of Ras al-Ain after fierce battles raged since (Tuesday) evening, pitting (Kurds) against Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other groups", said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Ras al-Ain is home to a majority Kurdish population and is of strategic importance given its location close to Turkey.
Its fighters are trying to ensure neither the regime of President Bashar al-Assad nor the opposition takes control of its areas.
The clashes between Kurdish fighters and jihadists broke out after Al-Nusra Front attacked a convoy of Kurdish women fighters, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Nine jihadists and two Kurdish fighters have been killed since battles erupted in Ras al-Ain Tuesday, said the Observatory.
Activists in Ras al-Ain said members of the jihadist groups had taken advantage of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began last week, to try to impose their extreme version of Islam.
In the early days of the Syrian conflict, when opponents of the Assad regime were desperate for assistance from any quarter, jihadist fighters were welcomed but a spate of abuses has fuelled a major backlash.