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Kurdish and Syrian government troops push IS out of Hasakeh city

After a month-long battle, Kurdish troops and the Syrian army take control of Hasakeh, now covered in land mines
Kurdish fighters clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Hasakeh on 30 June 2015 (AFP)

After a month of fighting, Kurdish fighters and Syrian government troops have pushed out the Islamic State group from the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh.

Syrian troops and Kurdish forces, who share control of the city, have been battling since 25 June to push IS out from the city which is the capital of the Hasakeh province.

IS “was expelled by the army from Zuhur, the last district in which it was present in Hasakeh, and its fighters have been pushed to the southern outskirts of the city,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman. 

One local Kurdish commander, who goes by the alias Lawant Rojava, told NBC that IS had left behind “thousands” of land mines which have left neighbouring villages uninhabitable.

“They plant large mines that are easily detonated so young boys are blown to pieces,” said Rojava. 

“We need help. We don’t have the technology or techniques to defuse them.”

Hasakeh, which is a two-hour drive from IS’s self-styled capital of Raqqa, has been attacked several times by the militant group but the 25 June assault was IS’s most serious yet.

The UK-based Observatory said IS had used at least 21 car bombs and several suicide bombers during the month-long fight.

Its forces initially seized several districts in the southern part of the city, with Kurdish fighters and government troops mobilising against them.

At least 287 IS fighters, among them 26 minors, have been killed in the fight for Hasakeh, in addition to strikes led by the US-led coalition outside of the city.

Another 120 government soldiers and several dozen Kurdish forces were also killed in the fighting.

At least 120,000 people from Hasakeh and surrounding villages have been displaced as a result of the fighting, according to the UN. 

Over the weekend, Abdel Rahman told AFP that despite the Kurds making up just a third of the city’s population, they were in control of the majority of the city.

“The YPG [People’s Protection Units] control 70 percent of Hasakeh city, IS controls 10 percent and the regime controls 20 percent,” Abdel Rahman said on Saturday.

The Kurdish forces also captured the town of Sarrin from IS fighters on 27 July, after a month long battle in the area to cut their supply lines.

The Observatory said that Sarrin was used as a launch pad for IS to wage raids on the Kurdish-held town of Kobane, located north at the border with Turkey.