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'IS' jihadists massacre hundreds of civilians in northern Syria

At least 120 civilians have been killed by "Islamic State" since the group launched an offensive in northern Syria on Thursday, according to a monitoring group. Some 60,000 have fled the area, the UN's Syria office said.

The Sunni jihadist group launched a two-pronged attack in northern Syria on Thursday in an attempt to retake Kobani and Hasaka. "Islamic State" (IS) militants have seized parts of the northeastern city of Hasaka as Kurdish forces struggle to keep control of the strategically important border city.

"According to medical sources and Kobani residents, 120 civilians were executed by IS in their homes or were killed by the group's rockets or snipers," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

At least 35 civilians and Kurdish fighters were killed in Kobani on Thursday when IS detonated a car bomb and launched an attack on the city, local hospital officials told the Reuters news agency. Twenty-two IS militants were also killed in the subsequent fighting.

"The bodies of jihadis are littering the streets," said Rami.

In a statement posted on jihadist websites, IS said its fighters "carried out multi-pronged attacks on several fronts" in Kobani and its surrounding areas.

On Thursday morning, an IS militant blew himself up near a Turkish border crossing, the Observatory reported. The jihadists also entered a Kurdish village south of Kobani on Friday morning and killed at least 23 people, including children and women, the monitoring group claimed.

Backed by US-led air strikes, Kurdish forces fought a four-month battle against IS in Kobani last year, finally capturing the town on the border to Turkey in January. But the anti-Islamist fighters were caught by surprise when IS launched a massive offensive on Thursday to regain control of the city.

Massive displacements

A United Nations report said Thursday that IS' latest attacks in northern Syria had forced at least 60,000 people to flee their homes.

"An estimated 200,000 people may try to flee the city in the coming hours to northern areas of the governorate, most likely towards Amuda and Qamishli (north of Hasaka)," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Sunni militant organization IS has captured vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Baghdad's army and Syrian rebels have thwarted their advance in many areas with the help of US air power and that of other coalition members.

The jihadists are known for their extreme interpretation of Islam, their brutality and massive human rights abuses.

shs/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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