IS attack near Syria refugee camp on Iraq border kills 32
At least 32 people were killed on Tuesday in an Islamic State group attack near a refugee camp on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq, a monitor said. "At least five suicide attackers blew themselves up outside and inside a camp for Iraqi refugees and displaced Syrians in Hasakeh province," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Heavy clashes then erupted between the IS fighters and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, some of whose combatants were among the dead, Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The camp lies in the Rajm al-Salibeh area just inside Syrian territory, and at least 21 of the dead were displaced Syrians or Iraqi refugees, the Observatory said. "At least 30 people were wounded, and the death toll may rise because some people are in critical condition and others are still unaccounted for," the Britain-based monitor said.
On Monday, the SDF captured most of the strategically vital town of Tabqa, 40km west of Raqqa along the Euphrates, it said. It said on Tuesday that fierce fighting continued as the SDF sought to capture the last few districts of the town as well as an adjacent dam, Syria's largest, and the last major obstacle remaining before it can begin its assault on Raqqa.
The battle for Tabqa is an important part of a broader offensive for IS's main Syrian stronghold, Raqqa, downstream. The makeshift camp lies in the Rajm al-Salibi area just inside Syrian territory, and at least 21 of the dead were displaced Syrians or Iraqi refugees, the Observatory said.
"At least 30 people were wounded, and the death toll may rise because some people are in critical condition and others are still unaccounted for," the Britain-based monitor said.
Tuesday's Islamic State attack on Rajm al-Salibi was targeted at the Asayish, a Kurdish security force that operates in northeast Syria, the Observatory said. Kamal Derbas, a press officer for the Kurdish Red Crescent, put the civilian death toll at 22.
He told AFP the attack began at 4am local time and that 35 people were wounded. "The dead will be buried in al-Hol," he said, referring to the nearest town. Civilians fleeing IS in both Syria and Iraq have made their way to the desolate border region seeking protection and onward passage to safety in Kurdish-controlled territory.
But conditions in the area are harsh, with little shelter and authorities often overstretched.IS once controlled large parts of Hassakeh province, but it has been pushed out of almost all of it, with Kurdish authorities now in control of most of the area. Syria's government maintains a small presence in the province, mostly in its capital Hassakeh city.
But IS remains a potent power in neighbouring Deir Ezzor province, from which many Syrians arriving at the border post are fleeing. Backed by a US-led air coalition, the SDF has waged a months-long campaign against the militants across northern Syria and is now closing in on their bastion of Raqqa.
More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.
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