Exodus following IS group advance in Assyrian areas

Exodus following IS group advance in Assyrian areas
Heavy fighting and airstrikes have led to IS fighters abandoning key towns in the Syrian governorate of Hasakah, but in Assyrian areas the group have advanced and kidnapped scores of civilians.
3 min read
01 March, 2015
Backed by coalition airstrikes, Kurdish and Arab forces have captured IS positions [Montage: Moment Mobile]

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are continuing their advance against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis) in Hasakah city in eastern Syria.

This comes after Kurdish fighters seized control of Tal Hamis, the last major IS stronghold in the area.

The Kurdish YPG were backed by Arab allies of the al-Sanadid Army, and their advance led to clashes between Christian Assyrians in Tal Tamer who have been fighting both Kurdish groups and the IS group fighters. The clashes has forced thousands to leave their homes.

Local sources in Hasakah say that the YPG and the al-Sanadid Army, which is under the control of the tribal leader Hamidi Daham al-Jarba, seized control of the Sunni-majority town of Tal Hamis from IS after airstrikes by the international alliance and heavy fighting on the ground.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 100 villages and towns have been captured by the YPG and the al-Sanadid Army in the past week alone, amid a widescale withdrawal of IS forces from the area.

Following the fall of the IS group's defensive lines, 175 militants have reportedly been killed over the past week.

The fighting has led to a massive flight of civilians in the Hasakah countryside.

On the move

After heavy fighting and airstrikes around Tal Hamis and Jazaa, thousands of families moved to the IS-controlled areas of al-Hawl and al-Shadadi in southern Hasakah.

According to the observatory, a UK-based opposition and monitoring group, the YPG burned down the houses of IS fighters before taking over an area on the Syrian-Iraqi border. 

Adnan al-Hamad, a Syrian activist, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that tens of Arab families had moved from Kurdish YPG-controlled areas in eastern Hasakah to the IS-controlled city of Tal Abyad in an attempt to cross the border into Turkey.

     Following the fall of IS group's defensive lines, 175 militants have been killed.

Local sources confirmed that Kurdish and Arab forces have attacked IS positions and checkpoints around the town of Tal Barak in an attempt to break the last IS stronghold in east Hasakah.

This would leave IS with control of the southern and western areas of the province.

IS fightback

Clashes have been raging in western Hasakah between IS forces and YPG fighters, backed by Assyrian militias.

IS group forces have been trying to capture Tal Tamer, the largest Christian Assyrian-majority city in Hasakah.

Last Sunday, the IS launched a massive offensive on the Assyrian majority Khabour Valley in western Hasakah, seizing control of more than ten Assyrian towns and villages.

According to the Assyrian Human Rights Network (AHRN), the assault led to the displacement of more than 1,000 families, who headed to Qamishli, which is controlled by the Kurds, and the city of Hasakah, which is governed by the Syrian regime.

The network reported that IS fighters kidnapped nearly 255 residents in Khabour Valley including women and children.

AHRN said that the IS group took the hostages to Um al-Masamir in the Jabal Abdul Aziz area, and burnt down the houses of civilians they had kidnapped.

The Syrian Observatory confirmed that Arab tribal elders met with Christian leaders in an attempt to get the Assyrian civilians released. The IS group have threatened to execute the hostages.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.