By: Agence France-Presse
June 25, 2015 1:47 PM
The flag of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit flies over the Syrian town of Kobane after it was retaken from the Islamic State in January. (AFP file)
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Islamic State group fighters reentered the Syrian town of Kobane on Thursday, detonating a suicide bomb and battling Kurdish forces, as the jihadist group seized two neighborhoods in the northeastern city of Hasakeh from government forces in heavy clashes overnight, a monitoring group said.
At least five people were killed in the suicide bombing and fierce clashes erupted in the center of Kobane, the Syrian Observatory for Human Right said.
IS battled for some four months to seize Kobane but Kurdish fighters, backed by US-led air strikes, secured control of the town on the border with Turkey in January, in a symbolic defeat for the jihadists.
In Hasakeh, at least 30 government soldiers and 20 IS fighters were killed in the fighting, which continued into Thursday morning, the Britain-based monitoring group said.
The IS attack began late on Wednesday, with the jihadist group using at least one suicide bomber against a militia checkpoint during its advance.
“Heavy fighting is continuing, with shelling by both sides,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
He said IS had taken control of two southern districts of the city.
“Civilians in those areas and nearby are fleeing to the northern parts of the city,” he added.
Control of Hasakeh, a provincial capital, is divided between Kurdish militia and government loyalists.
Kurdish forces are mostly present in the city’s north and northwest.
IS has sought repeatedly to enter Hasakeh, including earlier this month when it advanced to the southern outskirts of the city before regime forces pushed it back in heavy fighting.