Islamic State militants have raised their black flag in the Syrian village of Kara, less than a quarter-mile from the border with Turkey. Villagers across the border in Yavuzlu raised Turkish flags from their roofs upon seeing the ISIS flag atop a hill in the distance, the Hurriyet Daily News in Istanbul reported Sunday.
The Turkish army has tightened security along the border in recent weeks amid increased efforts by smugglers to cross in and out of the country. A total of 97 foreigners tried to cross into Syria from Turkey on Saturday – 92 of them Syrian citizens. Turkish officials detained five Dutch citizens who tried to travel into Syria illegally on Sunday. Turkish troops also uncovered five hunting rifles buried near the Syrian border in Hatay province, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria have been ineffective, and the Islamic State group – also known as ISIS or ISIL – has actually been gaining strength and expanding its reach. In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Assad said the airstrikes may "have local benefit … if you want to talk in terms of ISIS,” but that “actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes."
ISIS has seized a large swath of Iraq and Syria since the summer, and has managed to recruit 20,000 foreign fighters from more than 40 countries to the battle field. The terror group’s bloody rampage and barbaric beheadings of captives prompted the United States and its allies to launch a campaign of airstrikes against the militants in August.