IS at­tacks Syria’s Kobane in new of­fen­sive af­ter set­backs


The Is­lamic State group launched a two-pronged of­fen­sive in north­ern Syria on Thurs­day af­ter sev­eral set­backs, re-en­ter­ing the sym­bolic bat­tle­ground town of Kobane and seiz­ing parts of the city of Hasakeh.

In south­ern Syria, an al­liance of rebel groups, in­clud­ing al-Qaida af­fil­i­ate al-Nusra Front, also at­tacked gov­ern­ment-held ar­eas of the city of Daraa.

An­a­lysts said the sur­prise IS as­saults were aimed at di­vert­ing Kur­dish forces af­ter they scored a se­ries of vic­to­ries and ad­vanced on the ji­hadists’ Syr­ian strong­hold of Raqa.

Kobane, on the bor­der with Tur­key, be­came an im­por­tant sym­bol in the bat­tle against IS af­ter the group launched a bid to take it last year.

Kur­dish forces backed by U.S.led air strikes waged a four-month bat­tle to re­pel the group, fi­nally se­cur­ing the town in Jan­uary.

But on Thurs­day, the ji­hadists re­turned, det­o­nat­ing a sui­cide car bomb near the bor­der cross­ing ad­ja­cent to Kobane as they launched an as­sault.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights mon­i­tor said at least 12 civil­ians and Kur­dish fight­ers were killed in the car bomb and subse- quent fight­ing in the cen­tre of the town, along with eight IS mil­i­tants.

A few hours later, two more car bombs det­o­nated near the bor­der, but there were no im­me­di­ate de­tails on ca­su­al­ties.

Vil­lagers Ex­e­cuted

IS forces also en­tered a Kur­dish vil­lage some 20 kilo­me­ters (12 miles) south of Kobane on Thurs­day morn­ing, ex­e­cut­ing at least 23 res­i­dents, among them women and chil­dren, the Ob­ser­va­tory said.

The ji­hadists with­drew from Barkh Bu­tan af­ter U.S.-led coali­tion strikes on the out­skirts of the vil­lage and the ar­rival of Kur­dish forces, the mon­i­tor said.

The IS as­sault on Kobane prompted an­gry Kur­dish ac­cu­sa­tions that Tur­key had al­lowed the ji­hadists to en­ter Syria from its ter­ri­tory, a claim Turk­ish of­fi­cials dis­missed as “base­less.”

As the Kobane at­tack be­gan on Thurs­day, IS forces also en­tered the north­east­ern city of Hasakeh.

Charles Lis­ter, a vis­it­ing fel­low at the Brook­ings Doha Cen­tre think tank, said the two-pronged as­sault was a di­ver­sion­ary tac­tic af­ter Kur­dish forces ad­vanced to within 55 kilo­me­ters (35 miles) of Raqa this week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.