200 massacred by IS militants
Islamic State fighters who launched a surprise attack on a Syrian border town massacred more than 200 civilians, including women and children, before they were killed and driven out by Kurdish forces, activists said.
Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Kurdish official Idris Naasan put at 40-50 the number of elite IS fighters killed in the two days of fighting since the militants sneaked into the town of Kobani before dawn on Thursday.
Clashes, however, continued to the south and west of the predominantly Kurdish town on the Turkish border today, they said, although the fighting in the south quietened down by nightfall.
Mr Naasan said 23 of the city's Kurdish defenders were killed in the fighting, but the Observatory put the number at 16.
"Kobani has been completely cleared of Daesh, and Kurdish forces are now combing the town looking for fighters who may have gone into hiding," Mr Bali said. The official Syrian news agency, SANA, also reported that Kobani has been cleared of IS fighters.
The more than 200 civilians killed in the last two days include some who perished in IS suicide bombings, including one at the border crossing with Turkey, but they were mostly shot dead in cold blood, some in their own homes, the activists said.
"They were revenge killings," said Rami Abdurrahman, the Observatory's director.
Others were caught in the cross-fire as gun battles raged in the streets or were randomly targeted by IS snipers on rooftops.
Kobani has become a symbol of Kurdish resistance after it endured a months-long siege by the Islamic State group before Kurdish forces, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, broke through and drove the militants out in January.
Thursday's surprise attack on the town and a simultaneous one targeting the remote northeastern town of Hassakeh came one day after the Islamic State group called for a wave of violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and piety that is now in its second week.