IS suicide attack on Syrian refugee camp leaves at least 32 dead

Russell Hope, News Reporter

At least 32 people have been killed by Islamic State militants who attacked a refugee camp in northeast Syria near the border with Iraq.

The extremists launched the deadly pre-dawn suicide raid on a makeshift encampment that is home to around 300 families waiting to cross into territory held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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It is warned the number of dead could rise because some of the estimated 30 wounded are in a critical condition, while others are unaccounted for.

Heavy clashes between the SDF and militants followed the raid.

"At least five suicide attackers blew themselves up outside and inside a camp for Iraqi refugees and displaced Syrians in Hasakeh province," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The remote and desolate border region has become a favoured destination for civilians fleeing IS, many from neighbouring Deir Ezzor province, where the jihadists remain strong.

But across Syria, IS is under severe pressure from an alliance of coalition forces, while in Iraq, the terror group's territory has largely shrunk to western Mosul.

Supported by US-led air forces, the SDF has been fighting the jihadists for months across northern Syria and is now closing in on their base in Raqqa.

It recently captured most of the strategically important town of Tabqa, located on a supply route about 35 miles (55km) west of the city.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began during the Arab Spring in March 2011.

The UNHCR estimates 4.9 million Syrians have fled the country during the six-year conflict, with many more displaced internally.

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