US-led raids on IS in Syria after Kurdish plea: Monitor

BEIRUT - The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group launched air strikes against the jihadists in a key Syrian village overnight after Kurdish forces appealed for action, a monitor said Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes near the northeastern village of Tal Tamr were the first by the US-led coalition in the area since an IS advance there began in late February.

There were no immediate details on casualties in the raids, which the Britain-based monitor said hit IS positions near the village in the northeastern province of Hasakeh.

The strikes came just hours after the Kurdish forces battling to prevent IS from seizing Tal Tamr and the nearby border town of Ras al-Ain appealed for international action.

In a statement, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) called on "the international coalition forces to take part in the battle for Tal Tamr".

The village is one of a number that IS has attacked in Hasakeh province since it began an offensive there in late February.

It has so far seized several villages and kidnapped more than 200 Assyrian Christians in the area, prompting thousands of residents to flee to the safety of nearby cities.

Tal Tamr, while small, has strategic value because it lies on a road that runs across the Iraqi border to the east and on to IS's bastion there, Mosul.

It also sits on a road leading north to the Turkish border and the town of Ras al-Ain, which is also under IS assault.

On Friday, YPG spokesman Redur Khalil said IS was bringing reinforcements to the Ras al-Ain area and Kurdish fighters there were expecting an "imminent attack".

The IS offensive in Hasakeh came after Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes expelled the jihadist group from the key border town of Kobane.

More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-government uprising that began in March 2011 descended into a civil war that has attracted thousands of foreign jihadists.