Islamic State attacks Kobane, Hasakah, and Deir al Zour

Reported footage of an Islamic State car bomb in Kobane

The Islamic State has launched three separate attacks in Syria in recent days, one in the northern city of Kobane and two on targets in the eastern portion of the country: the city of Hasakah and the regime airbase at Deir al Zour.

The attack in Kobane commenced yesterday with suicide bombings by the jihadist group, followed by heavily armed assault teams infiltrating the city. Some activists have reported that the Islamic State was able to infiltrate the city by wearing uniforms similar to those in the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), while others have said the jihadists entered from Turkey. Both reports have not been verified and Turkish officials have denied the latter claim. The initial attack is said to have killed 50 civilians and several YPG fighters.

The YPG and its female contingent, the YPJ, are affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a US-designated terrorist organization.

It was reported today that the Islamic State has killed 120 civilians after “firing on anything that moved.” Other reports indicated that the jihadists have been going to house to house executing civilians. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) told the BBC that “women and children were among the bodies found inside houses and on the streets of the town.” SOHR said today that 22 Islamic State fighters have been killed, including three suicide bombers.

Additionally, US Central Command (CENTCOM) has reported 10 airstrikes in the vicinity of Kobane in the last 24 hours. According to CENTCOM, the airstrikes “struck two large and six small ISIL tactical units, destroying six ISIL vehicles, three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL mortar firing positions and two ISIL staging areas.”

The Islamic State had been forced to retreat from Kobane in late January after fighters from the YPG/YPJ, Burkan al Furat, the PKK, and elements of the Iraqi Peshmerga, backed by heavy US airstrikes, drove the jihadists from the town.

Hasakah assault and renewed bid for Deir al Zour airbase

In addition to the attack in Kobane, the Islamic State launched an offensive in the eastern Syrian city of Hasakah yesterday, which has been long contested by the Syrian regime and Kurdish fighters. The jihadist assault is also said to have started with a suicide bombing.

The BBC reported that 30 regime troops and 20 Islamic State fighters were killed in clashes yesterday. Despite its losses, the Islamic State was able to capture two districts in the city.

According to the UN, 50,000 people have been displaced within the city since the attack began, while another 10,000 fled towards Turkey.

The Islamic State has released several photos from the assault in Hasakah. The photos show several crates of ammunition captured from the regime, as well as several vehicles. Other photos show dead regime soldiers, but the images are too graphic to be published by The Long War Journal.

While the jihadist group is attacking Kobane and Hasakah, it has also launched a renewed assault on the Deir al Zour airbase in eastern Syria, which is heavily defended by the Syrian regime. Elements of the elite Republican Guard are said to be in charge of the defense of the facility. No numbers have been specified, but the SOHR has reported casualties on both sides.

The attacks come after the YPG/YPJ and Syrian rebels, some allied to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), recently drove the Islamic State out of Tal Abyad, Ain Issa, and the Liwa 93 military base in Raqqah province. The YPG said in a statement that its forces, the YPJ, and fighters from Burkan al Furat (Euhprates Volcano) made the advance in northern Raqqah. US airstrikes assisted the Kurds and the Syrian rebels in their offensive. [For more information, see LWJ report, Islamic State suffers losses in provincial home of the ‘caliphate’.]

The latest attacks by the Islamic State are seen by many as a response to the Kurdish gains in Raqqah province, the proclaimed “capital” of the Islamic State. It has also been speculated that the assaults may be diversionary tactics, however, as both fronts have been highly contested in the past.

Images released from Hasakah:

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Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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5 Comments

  • Oberron says:

    Yep confirms my suspicions. IS is ceding tactical ground to focus on Strategic Ground. Clearing Deir Ezzor will free up 20,000 fighters estimated to be around it for operations elsewhere. 20,000 fighters that can be used to devastating effect elsewhere.

  • jim fries says:

    How effective are the airstrikes in the Kobane region? Are the air crews getting useful intelligence and targeting assistance from the ground? IS appear to be able to move and resupply with their usual ruthless efficiency.

  • mike merlo says:

    beyond disgusting. The Turks have proven themselves to be just as duplicitous, conniving & backstabbing as the Pakistani’s

  • Pendraig says:

    It seems ISIS has ceded the Northern Territories in advance of Turkey’s pronounced buffer zone. They seem to have had some prior knowledge of this Turkish interdiction.

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