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Islamic State Says Frees Prisoners in Syrian City of Hasaka

Graffiti depicting the flag of the Islamic State / AP
• June 26, 2015 12:00 pm

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State said on Friday it had freed prisoners held at a jail in the city of Hasaka that it is fighting to seize from government forces.

"The detainees in the central prison have been freed," the ultra-hardline jihadist group said on an official Twitter feed.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti in Cairo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Reuters also reported IS had killed at least 145 civilians in Kobani:

Islamic State pressed a separate assault to capture government-held parts of the northeastern city of Hasaka, blowing up a security building and triggering a government appeal for all residents to take up arms. The United Nations said 60,000 people were reported to have fled the attack.

Islamic State's twin attacks which began on Thursday showed the group returning to the offensive in Syria after two weeks of defeats at the hands of Kurdish-led forces, supported by U.S.-led air strikes. Earlier this week the Kurds advanced to within 50 km (30 miles) of Raqqa city, the group's de facto capital.

The Kurdish YPG militia described the attack on Kobani as "a suicide mission" rather than an attempt to capture the town at the Turkish border. It said it fought intermittent gun battles on Friday with Islamic State fighters holed up in three locations.

Islamic State has a record of conducting large scale killings of civilians in territory it captures in both Iraq and Syria, where it has proclaimed a caliphate to rule over all Muslims according to an ultra-hardline vision of Islam.

The attack on the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani and the nearby village of Brakh Bootan marked the biggest single massacre of civilians by Islamic State in Syria since it killed hundreds of members of the Sunni Sheitaat tribe last year, Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, said.

He said 146 civilians had been killed. The YPG spokesman said at least 145 had died in the assault launched by a group of Islamic State fighters estimated to number in the dozens.

"The Daesh attack was a suicide mission. Its aim wasn't to take the city but to create terror," spokesman Redur Xelil said, using an Arabic name for the group.

The assault included at least three suicide car bombs. The dead included the elderly, women and children.

The Islamic State fighters were reported to have entered the town disguised as members of the YPG and Syrian rebel groups.

Published under: Islamic State, Syria, Terrorism