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IS militants attack prison of Hasaka, all inmates set free

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Damascus: The Islamic State (IS) militants on Friday advanced into Syria’s northern city of Hasaka amid ferocious battles with the Syrian government forces, according to activists.

The IS continued to advance against the government forces, storming the central prison of Hasaka, and releasing all inmates, Arab media cited the IS reports as saying.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 20 security forces were killed on Friday when the IS militants blew up a car bomb near a security headquarters in Hasaka.

The state news agency SANA said that the IS militants blew up a booby-trapped vehicle near an intelligence headquarters in the city, spelling no further details.

A day earlier, the IS militants unleashed a massive attack against Hasaka, capturing the Nashweh neighbourhood in the southern part of the city, following intense battles with the Syrian forces.

Activists said the IS militants kept the momentum of their attack on Friday.

Syria’s Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi said on Friday that defending Hasaka in the face of the terrorist group was the duty of every person in Hasaka, calling on all men capable of holding weapons to take part in defending the city against the massive offensive of the IS militants. (IANS)

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US Backtracks on Iraqi, Kurd Cease-fire Claim

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An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri
An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq. VOA

Iraq, October 27: The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State announced Friday morning a cease-fire between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga in Northern Iraq but quickly backtracked on the claim, saying it is not an “official” cease-fire.

Army spokesman Ryan Dillon posted a clarification on Twitter to say “both parties (are) talking with one another,” but that a “cease-fire” had not been reached.

The Iraqi military and the Kurdish minority have been clashing for several weeks after the Iraqi troops moved to secure areas in northern Iraq that had been seized from IS jihadists by Kurdish forces. The Kurdish forces abandoned the land largely without resistance, though low-level clashes have been reported.

Iraqi PM rejects Kurdish offer

The areas Iraqi forces are moving into were mostly under Baghdad’s control in 2014, when Islamic State militants swept into the region. Kurdish Peshmerga and coalition forces recaptured the lands, and the Kurdistan Region has since held them.

The Iraqi leadership said it is retaking the areas to establish federal authority after a Kurdish referendum for independence in September threatened the nation’s unity. More than 92 percent of Kurds in Iraq voted “yes” in a vote Baghdad called illegal, and the international community leaders said was dangerous and ill-timed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday rejected an offer by Kurdish leaders to freeze the results of their independence referendum in favor of dialogue in order to avoid further conflict.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, in a statement, said the confrontations have hurt both sides and could lead to ongoing bloodshed and social unrest in Iraq.

“Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life,” the KRG said.

‘Unified Iraq is the only way to go’

Abadi said in a statement his government will accept only the annulment of the referendum and respect for the constitution.

During a briefing Friday morning at the Pentagon, Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. told reporters the U.S. believes “a unified Iraq is the only way to go forward.”

He added, “We’re not helping anyone attack anyone else inside Iraq, either the Kurds or the Iraqis.”(VOA)

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