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Syrian air raids cause 60,000 civilians to flee Hasakeh: NGO

90 percent of Syrian town of Hasakeh is reportedly emptied of its inhabitants as Assad forces claim to target IS militants
Members of the Asayis Kurdish police in the Syrian Hasakeh governorate on November 18, 2013 (AFP)

Raids by Syrian forces 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 IS group.

"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, pro-Assad forces and the IS have clashed after militants attacked army bases in northern Syria.

The army has also stepped up raids targeting IS positions in the north and east, where the group is dominant.

Other rebel groups that have been battling Assad's forces 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".