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Syrian Army Recaptures Hasaka District from IS

  • Reuters

The Syrian army said on Monday it had recaptured a major residential quarter in Hasaka from Islamic State insurgents who stormed the strategically located northeastern city last week and drove out thousands of civilians.

Syrian state television said in a newsflash the army had now "cleansed" the southern Hasaka district of Nashwa of Islamic State fighters, who hold large tracts of Syria's east but mainly the more thinly populated countryside.

Earlier on Monday a Syrian army source said Islamic State suicide bombers blew up two trucks in the southeastern district of Ghwyran and a fire erupted at petroleum storage tanks and a textile firm following shelling by the militants.

State television quoted the army source as saying Islamic State had targeted a major roundabout and an area around a mosque in Ghwyran, among the districts entered by the insurgents in their bid to seize government-held parts of Hasaka.

The army source did not disclose details on casualties but said a number of "martyrs fell ... Fire erupted at the [textile] plant and a number of storage tanks," the source said, without giving further details.

Islamic State said it had carried out suicide attacks on army checkpoints in Ghwyran and that its fighters had advanced to new locations in Hasaka's Aziziya district.

The Islamist insurgents have deployed scores of suicide bombers against army checkpoints in Hasaka, enabling them to move into positions deeper inside the city, which is close to the border with Iraq.

Islamic State has gone back on the offensive in Syria's civil war after two weeks of reverses at the hands of Kurdish-led forces supported by air strikes of a U.S.-led coalition.

Hasaka, which had a pre-war population of 300,000, is important for all sides in the conflict as it sits between IS-held territory in Syria and in nearby Iraq.

Hasaka has been divided into areas run separately by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and regional Kurdish authorities, and has an ethnically and religiously mixed population of Arabs and Kurds.