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IS releases 93 Kurds in northern Syria: activists

The Islamic State (IS) released about 93 Kurds captured by its fighters nine months ago in northern Syria, a monitoring group said Tuesday.

Last February, the IS fighters captured tens of Kurds on the Syrian-Turkish border while en route from the Syrian city of Ayn al-Arab, or Kobane, toward Iraq's Kurdistan region, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based watchdog group that relies on a network of activists on ground.

It added that the IS kept the kidnapped Kurds in the Alieh area near Ayn al-Arab on charges of being loyal to the Kurdish Democratic Party, which is currently fighting the IS alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Ayn al-Arab.

Over 53 of those released crossed into Turkey on Monday, while the destination of the rest 40 Kurds remained unknown, according to the Observatory.

Recently, the IS has released 25 Kurdish students captured in Aleppo province. It remains unclear what pushed the IS to release the snatched Kurds in spite of the raging battles between its fighters and the Kurdish militants in Ayn al-Arab.

Meanwhile, the Observatory said that intense clashes were still raging between the YPG and the Islamic State group near the towns of Albour and Manazi, in the western countryside of Ayn al-Arab. The clashes there have killed five Kurdish fighters and five jihadist militants.

It said 13 IS fighters were also killed during the strikes by the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition against the terror group's positions in the western countryside of Ayn al-Arab.

On Sept. 15, the IS unleashed its wide-scale offensive against the city in a bid to capture it, which, if succeeds, would enable the IS to link its self-declared capital of al-Raqqa with Ayn al- Arab and stretch its territory to the areas bordering Turkey.

The IS has captured more than 300 villages around the city and managed to storm parts of it after forcing over 160,000 people to flee into neighboring Turkey.

Earlier this week, the Peshmerga forces, sent by the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, were sent to help their Syrian brethren in their fight against the IS militants.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 04Nov14]

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