IS locked in battle for villages
Heavy clashes raged in north-eastern Syria as Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants battled for control of a string of villages near the Iraqi and Turkish borders.
The fighting focused in Hassakeh province in the extreme north-east of Syria, where IS militants took at least one village near the small town of Tal Tamr, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees activist collective said. Tal Tamr is 50 miles south-west of the provincial capital of Qamishli.
The SANA state news agency said the extremists attacked seven villages in all, forcing hundreds of people to flee.
The IS gains came a day after Kurdish militiamen from the People's Protection Units, or YPG, captured around 20 villages south-east of Qamishli in a new offensive against the Islamic State group. Heavy fighting broke out again today, activists said.
The US military said coalition aircraft carried out 11 airstrikes against IS in Hassakeh yesterday. It said the air raids hit 10 IS tactical units and destroyed two IS vehicles, a bunker and a fighting position.
Also today, an explosion at a checkpoint near the Damascus suburb of Sayeda Zeinab killed six people, the state news agency said. Sayeda Zeinab is home to a key Shiite Muslim shrine.
North-east of the capital, a rocket struck a prison, killing four people and wounding more than 20, state media said.