Middle East

ISIS gains ground against Syria army in Hassakeh: activists

A member of the Syrian regime forces walks near a destroyed vehicle in the northeastern Syrian city of Hassakeh, on July 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / YOUSSEF KARWASHAN

BEIRUT: ISIS has gained ground against the Syrian army in a major northeastern city, activists said, after three weeks of clashes that killed 170 people.

On June 25, ISIS seized two southern neighborhoods in Hassakeh from pro-government forces, who share control of the city with Kurdish militia.

In the past 10 days, the jihadis expanded their control, seizing Hassakeh's southern entrance, a stadium, Al-Zuhur neighborhood 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 ISIS has carried out at least 17 suicide attacks against army positions since June 25, said the Observatory.

An AFP 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 Hassakeh since June 25, and another 100 were wounded.

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

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

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

The ongoing clashes between government troops and the jihadi 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.





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