ISIL in major assault on Syria border town: monitor
BEIRUT/BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse
Foreign fighters who joined the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) aim their weapons during what the YPG said was an offensive against them by Islamic State fighters, in the western countryside of Ras al-Ain March 10, 2015. REUTERS Photo.The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a major offensive on March 11 to try to capture a strategic town on the Syrian-Turkish border, sparking fierce clashes with Kurdish militia, a monitor said.
"Fighters from ISIL started a huge assault towards Ras al-Ain, and were able to take over a village nearby," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Ras al-Ain, in Hasakeh province, was the scene of major fighting in 2013 before Kurdish forces ousted rebels and Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists from the town, which has a border crossing with Ceylanpinar in Turkey.
Ras al-Ain and surrounding villages are under the control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), and the new clashes have left dozens dead from both sides, the Britain-based Observatory said.
A spokesman for the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the YPG's political arm, confirmed the intense battles.
The offensive comes just weeks after Kurdish fighters drove ISIL out of the Syrian town of Kobane further west along the Turkish border.
The town, which was devastated by months of fighting and US-led coalition air strikes, became a prominent symbol of resistance against the jihadists.
Kurdish and allied forces have since taken much of the surrounding countryside in northern Aleppo province and have begun pushing east into neighbouring Raqa province, home to ISIL's self-proclaimed "capital".
Coordinated attacks in Iraqi city of Ramadi
Meanwhile, ISIL also launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on March 11, involving seven almost simultaneous suicide car bombs, police said.
At least 10 people were killed and 30 wounded in the attack, according to initial reports by police and hospital sources in the city, capital of Anbar province.
"At around 7:00 am (0400 GMT), ISIL launched seven attacks with suicide bombers driving Humvees in the areas of Hawz, Malaab, Toi, Albu Faraj and Albu Eitha," police major Mustafa Samir said.
For months, the government has been fighting off ISIL militants who control most neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city and regularly attack security forces in more central districts.
Police officers said clashes broke out in several areas following the multiple car bomb attack on Wednesday. Mortar rounds were fired on the provincial council headquarters.
Pro-ISIL accounts on social media said a Belgian, a Syrian and a militant from the Caucasus were among the suicide bombers.