JEDDAH: Daesh militants have abducted hundreds of civilians after storming a displacement camp in eastern Syria during a battle with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Several SDF fighters died trying to defend the camp in a battle on Friday night that lasted several hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Daesh gunmen seized up to 130 families by force and took them to areas in the last pocket of territory they control in the region. The families are mostly made up of foreign women, including widows of Daesh members killed earlier in the Syrian war. The observatory warned that Daesh may kill them.
The US-backed SDF launched a major assault on Sept. 10 on the small stretch of the Euphrates Valley around the town of Hajin, where they estimate about 3,000 Daesh militants are holed up.
But they have sustained heavy casualties in the operation being conducted with US-led air support.
Since Wednesday, 37 SDF fighters have been killed in militant counterattacks and Daesh has lost 58 fighters, most of them in retaliatory coalition air strikes, the observatory said.
“Daesh is pressing its attacks in the Hajin area as the SDF battles to hold them off with the support of the international coalition,” observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
But a prolonged sandstorm has made it difficult for the coalition to carry out airstrikes.
Founded in 2015, the SDF is spearheaded by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a powerful Kurdish armed movement.
Hundreds of foreigners have joined the YPG to battle Daesh, which has its own notorious contingent of foreign fighters.
Meanwhile the UN, Israel and Syria have reached an agreement to reopen the Quneitra crossing in the occupied Golan Heights on Monday.
“The United States welcomes the reopening of this crossing, which will allow UN peacekeepers to step up their efforts to prevent hostilities in the Golan Heights region,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said.
The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), with about 1,000 troops, was established in 1974 and monitors a cease-fire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria.
UNDOF resumed its patrols in the area of the crossing point in August, after withdrawing in 2014 when Al-Qaeda-linked forces overran the area.