Jan 2, 2015 3:05 PM

Saudi IS cleric killed in northern Syria

The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) A Saudi cleric with the Islamic state group has been killed in the northern Syrian town of Kobani that has been witnessing intense clashes for months between jihadis and Kurdish gunmen, activists said Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Othman al-Nazeh al-Assiri was killed Thursday while battling Kurdish fighters in Kobani.

Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, including the Raqqa Media Center, which operates in areas under IS control, said al-Assiri was killed in an airstrike on Kobani by the U.S.-led coalition.

Kurdish Democratic Union Party spokesman Nawaf Khalil said he has no confirmation that al-Assiri was killed while battling the members of the local Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units or YPG.

Al-Assiri was known Sharia official with the Islamic State group and used to lead sermons at a mosque in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

Earlier Friday, three activist groups said the U.S.-led coalition warplanes carried out more than a dozen airstrikes overnight in and around Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital in northeastern Syria.

The air raids on the outskirts of Raqqa were the heaviest coalition strikes on the city along the Euphrates River since Islamic State group militants captured a Jordanian pilot after his F-16 jet went down near the city on Dec. 24.

The anti-Islamic State activist group called Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered reported on Friday at least 13 coalition strikes. It said the Furoussiyeh area and the Division 17 military base were among the targets hit.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees activist collective also confirmed the air raids.

There was no immediate word on casualties.


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