Fierce clashes rage in Hassakeh

The Syrian government has rushed reinforcements to the northeastern city of Hassakeh to stave off an attack by ISIS militants, who used a truck bomb Sunday in a failed attempt to stem the government advance.

Anti-regime activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said regime forces appeared to be gaining against the campaign by ISIS militants to seize the provincial capital.

Gen. Issam Zahreddine, one of Syria’s most prominent military officers, left the city of Deir al-Zor and is now in Hassakeh to guide the regime’s efforts, according to pro-regime social media.

The attack on Hassakeh has sent thousands of residents fleeing for the towns of Amouda and Qamishli to the north. The Kurdish YPG militia was also making gains against ISIS in the city’s eastern neighborhoods, the Observatory said.

The developments followed Saturday’s announcement by Kurdish officials that last week’s attack by ISIS on the border town of Ain al-Arab to the west had ended.

The ISIS fighters detonated a car bomb and massacred more than 200 residents of Ain al-Arab before they were eventually defeated by Kurdish YPG militiamen.

The U.S.-led coalition also targeted ISIS fighters near Ain al-Arab with nine airstrikes Saturday, a military spokesman said.

Fighting also raged in the southern provincial capital of Deraa, where rebels from the Southern Front alliance launched a campaign against regime positions last week.

Several days of fierce fighting have yet to result in a clear advantage for either side, as both have claimed gains. The rebels said a general had been killed in the fighting, naming him as Nidal Suleiman.

In Damascus, a mortar bomb killed three people and wounded 12 more in a market in northeast part of the capital, Syrian state TV reported, after months of relative calm.

The bomb exploded in a market in Saroujah just northeast of the city center, it said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.