IS strikes Al-Hasakah city with suicide attack, mortars

AMMAN: Islamic State fighters dressed as Asayish (Kurdish police loyal to the PYD) suicide bombed one of their bases in Al-Hasakah city Wednesday as IS launched mortars into civilian neighborhoods nearby in the provincial capital, reported pro-Kurdish ARA News.

The Islamic State “wants to plant fear among the civilians and Kurdish soldiers [by showing] that they're able to break through their defenses,” Ali a-Nayyef, a citizen journalist in the northern Al-Hasakah countryside with the pro-opposition Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union told Syria Direct Thursday.

 Female Asayish police officers. Photo courtesy of Rezan Shmu.

The Islamic State has launched attacks on the provincial capital before in heretofore failed attempts to establish a foothold in Al-Hasakah, which is jointly ruled by the Kurdish PYD and regime forces. In Wednesday's attack, three four-wheel drive cars approached the Asayish general headquarters in the a-Nasira neighborhood of al-Hasakah, Asayish sources were quoted by the Kurdish media outlet ARA News as saying.

A suicide bomber blew up one of the cars, after which eight IS fighters attacked the headquarters and made it inside before being killed. Seven Asayish soldiers were reportedly killed in the attack, as well as all of the Islamic State fighters.

Concurrent with the assault on the Asayish headquarters, IS fired mortars “indiscriminately” at civilians in the Kurdish-controlled a-Salihia and Tel Hajr neighborhoods, Atiya al-Atiya, a correspondent with pro-regime al-Khabr Television, told Syria Direct Wednesday.

Three civilians were killed in the shellings, reported ARA News.

Kurdish civilians, “overcome by a state of fear,” began to flee towards regime-controlled areas in the city as Asayish forces ordered them to return to their homes, Islam Khefji, a pro-regime journalist inside the city, told Syria Direct Thursday.

The Islamic State has a presence around al-Hasakah city roughly three km to the northwest in the town of Tauq al-Milh, and roughly three km to the south and southwest near the village of Rada Shaqra.

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor in Syria. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015 and was named the 2018 Middle East and North Africa Laureate for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) Women in News Editorial Leadership Award.

Osama Abu Zeid

Osama Abu Zeid is a native of Homs, where he served as a media activist and founding member of the Homs Revolutionary Council after the Syrian uprising began in 2011.