Monitor: 35 IS jihadists killed in clashes with Kurds
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Monitor: 35 IS jihadists killed in clashes with Kurds

Peshmerga expand offensive on Raqqa province with help from US-led air support as fighting rages throughout Syria

Illustrative photo of an Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighter firing at Islamic State (IS) positions, on September 9, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JM Lopez)
Illustrative photo of an Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighter firing at Islamic State (IS) positions, on September 9, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JM Lopez)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — At least 35 Islamic State jihadists were killed on Sunday in clashes with Syrian Kurdish fighters around the flashpoint town of Kobani, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the deaths came in three separate clashes around the town in Aleppo province of northern Syria.

At least 22 of the jihadists were killed in fighting on the border between Aleppo and Raqqa province, where IS has its de facto capital.

That battle marked the first time in months that fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have expanded their attacks to the edge of Raqqa province.

Four YPG fighters were killed in those clashes, with the Kurdish forces capturing the strategic Tal Baghdaq hilltop, the Observatory said.

The other jihadist deaths came in clashes to the west and south of Kobani, the key border town that Kurdish forces recaptured on January 26.

IS fighters began advancing on the town last September, and at one point looked poised to overrun it, cementing their grip on a long stretch of the Syria-Turkey border.

But YPG ground forces backed by US-led air strikes were able to repel the IS fighters.

Since the town’s recapture, YPG forces have been expanding their control from Kobani into the surrounding countryside, where they have largely encountered little resistance from the jihadists.

But the Observatory said the fighting around Tel Baghdaq on the Aleppo-Raqqa border was some of the heaviest in the region since Kobani fell.

The group said the US-led coalition fighting IS had also carried out air strikes in the region on Sunday, but there was no initial information on casualties in the raids.

The IS group has declared an Islamic “caliphate” in territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, with the provincial capital of Raqqa province serving as its effective capital.

More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s conflict began with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.

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