‘Islamic State’ gains ground against Syria army in Hasakeh

Friday 10/07/2015
Many fronts in complex war

BEIRUT - The extremist Islamic State group has gained ground against the Syrian army in a major northeastern city, a monitor said Tuesday, after three weeks of clashes that killed 170 people.

On June 25, IS seized two southern neighbourhoods in Hasakeh from pro-government forces, who share control of the city with Kurdish militia.

In the past 10 days, the jihadists expanded their control, seizing Hasakeh's southern entrance, a stadium, Al-Zuhur neighbourhood and parts of Ghwayran, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"In Al-Zuhur, they looted civilians' homes," said the director of the Britain-based monitor that gets its information from a network of sources across war-ravaged Syria.

On Tuesday, clashes raged on the city's southern edges, where IS has carried out at least 17 suicide attacks against army positions since June 25, said the Observatory.

A journalist in army-held parts of Ghwayran described buildings damaged by rocket fire and a plume of black smoke emerging in the distance.

The Observatory said nearly 100 regime soldiers have been killed in the city of Hasakeh since June 25, and another 100 were wounded.

At least 70 jihadists were killed, including 15 soldiers under the age of 16 who were recruited by IS.

The fighting displaced more than 120,000 people between June 25 and June 30 in Hasakeh city, according to the UN.

The city is capital of Hasakeh province and had a pre-war population of 300,000 people.

The ongoing clashes between government troops and the jihadist group are one of many fronts in Syria's complex war, which has left more than 230,000 people dead since it began in March 2011.