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IS gains ground against Syria army in Hasakeh: Monitor

Nearly 100 government soldiers have been killed in the northwestern city of Hasakeh since June 25
Members of a pro-government Syriac Christian movement stand with their weapons on the front line in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakeh on July 13, 2015 (AFP)

The Islamic State group has gained ground against the Syrian army in a major northeastern city, a monitor said on Tuesday, after three weeks of clashes that have killed 170 people.

On 25 June, IS seized two southern neighbourhoods in Hasakeh from pro-government forces, who share control of the city with Kurdish militia.

In the past 10 days, the militants expanded their control, seizing Hasakeh's southern entrance, a stadium, Al-Zuhur neighbourhood and parts of Ghwayran, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"In Al-Zuhur, they looted civilians' homes," said the director of the Britain-based monitor that gets its information from a network of sources across war-ravaged Syria.

On Tuesday, clashes raged on the city's southern edges, where IS has carried out at least 17 suicide attacks against army positions since 25 June, said the Observatory.

An AFP journalist in army-held parts of Ghwayran described buildings damaged by rocket fire and a plume of black smoke emerging in the distance.

The Observatory said nearly 100 government soldiers have been killed in Hasakeh since 25 June, and another 100 were wounded.

At least 70 IS militants were killed, including 15 soldiers under the age of 16 who were recruited by the group.

The fighting displaced more than 120,000 people between 25 and 30 June in Hasakeh city, according to the UN.

The city is capital of Hasakeh province and had a pre-war population of 300,000 people.

The ongoing clashes between government troops and IS are one of many fronts in Syria's complex war, which has left more than 230,000 people dead since it began in March 2011.

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