Raids by Syrian forces hunting suspected Islamic State infiltrators in the northeast town of Hasakeh have sparked an exodus of more than 60,000 civilians in three days, a monitor said Monday.
Hasakeh is split between zones controlled by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Kurdish groups and militants from the radical IS group, which is sowing terror in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
“No fewer than 60,000 residents have fled Hasakeh’s Ghuiran district since Friday, after air raids by regime forces,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The regime claims there are IS fighters in the neighbourhood, and that’s why they are bombarding it,” its chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
“At least 90 percent of the area has been emptied of its inhabitants,” he added.
Since July, regime forces and the IS have clashed after the jihadists attacked army bases in northern Syria.
The army has also stepped up raids targeting IS positions in the north and east, where the jihadist group notorious for its brutality is dominant.
Other rebel groups that have been battling Assad’s regime for more than three years — in a conflict the UN says has killed at least 191,000 people — are also fighting the IS militants, accusing them of stealing their “revolution”.