Islamic State group extremists killed dozens of Syrian government troops in attacks on three checkpoints, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday. Meanwhile, Kurdish forces beat back the militant group in Kobani, a key northern town on the border between Syria and Turkey.
"The clashes killed 40 government loyalists, including soldiers and members of the National Defense Forces," a pro-government militia, observatory head Rami Abdurrahman told Agence France-Presse.
The attacks took place at military checkpoints near Sheikh Hilal village in central Hama province Friday. The checkpoints were on a road secured to allow pro-government forces to reach Aleppo, where regime troops have been battling rebels since 2012. Fighters with the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS retreated as reinforcements arrived. The deaths of 40 people in these attacks was an atypically high figure, according to Abdurrahman, who said these type of attacks usually claim a couple of lives each.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State group’s two-day assault on Kobani claimed more than 200 lives, Abdurrahman said Saturday. "The number of civilians killed by IS in Kobani and the surrounding area has risen to 206, after additional bodies were found today," he told AFP.
Kobani had been reduced to rubble during a five-month siege that began in September 2014, leading civilians to pour over the border into Turkey. Islamic State group fighters started attacking the town again in recent days. Abdurrahman’s group said Kurdish fighters are now in control of Kobani and are combing the town to root out lingering militants who may be hiding in bombed-out buildings.
Islamic State group representative Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said this week that the holy month of Ramadan should be a time of "calamity for the infidels ... Shiites and apostate Muslims."
A suicide bomber hit a Shiite mosque in Kuwait Friday, killing at least 25 and injuring more than 200, which appears to be in line with al-Adnani’s call to action during Ramadan.
Along the same line, at least 10 people were killed in Baghdad in bombings of public places Saturday, according to the Associated Press. A car bomb went off around noon local time close to shops selling car parts in the Iraqi capital, killing at least five and injuring 13. Two other bomb blasts -- one in an outdoor market and another near a row of shops -- killed five and wounded 18. The attackers are unknown, but are likely linked to Iraq's continuing battle against the Islamic State group.
Attacks such as the ones in Baghdad Saturday and at a Tunisian resort Friday may be the work of people inspired by the radical ideology promoted by Islamic State group leaders, but might not indicate direct collaboration with the group seeking to carve out a brutal fundamentalist Islamist caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.