Middle East Updates / Two Brits Among the Jihadis Released in Turkey-Islamic State Prisoner Swap

Ten Hezbollah fighters killed in clashes with Nusra Front near Lebanon-Syria border; Kurds repel Islamic State fighters at Kobani, near Syria-Turkey border; Egyptian police arrest militants accused of recruiting for Islamic State.

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Turkish Kurds watch a mortar shelling being landed as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State in Kobani, October 4, 2014.Credit: AP

Haaretz's latest Middle East analyses and opinions: Israel is no longer the center of the Mideast story (Amos Harel) | The death of Arab thuggery, not Arab civilization (Khaled Diab)


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Latest updates:

6:05 P.M. At least 30 people were killed in two suicide attacks on two checkpoints run by Kurdish fighters in Syria's northeastern city of Hasakah on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The attacks targeted checkpoints run by Kurdish fighters on the western entrance of the city, they occurred within minutes from each other," Rami Abdelrahman from the Observatory said. (Reuters)

3:56 P.M. Officials in the British Defence Department have confirmed that two British jihadists were released in a prisoner exchange between Turkey and the Islamic State group, the BBC reported Monday.

According to the BBC report, the officials named the two British jihadists that were released as a part of a group of 180 Islamic State militants released by Turkey in exchange for 46 Turkish consular workers and their families kidnapped by the Islamic State in Mosul in June.

The British newspaper The Times reported, based on documents it has obtained, that among the jihadists released were three Frenchmen, two Macedonians, two Swedes, a Swiss national, and a Belgian. According to the report the jihadists were either held in Turkish hospitals and prisons, or were held by moderate Syrian rebels.

The details of the prisoner swap, which took place last month, had gone unreported until now. Two weeks ago, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was asked about the prisoner swap, he did not confirm the swap took place, but didn't deny that it took place either. (Haaretz)

2:17 P.M. Islamic State raises flag on eastern side of Kobani on Syria-Turkey border after fierce clashes. (Reuters)

1:48 P.M. Ten fighters from Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group were killed in clashes with fighters from Al-Qaida's Syrian wing in eastern Lebanon on Sunday, a source close to the group said on Monday.

Hundreds of fighters from the Nusra Front attacked several Hezbollah bases along a mountainous range close to the Syrian border on Sunday, in the latest spillover of violence from the civil war next door.

The death toll is one of the group's highest single loses since it publicly took part in fighting in Syria along Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces. (Reuters)

1:08 P.M. Kurdish forces defending a besieged Syrian enclave of Kobani from the Islamic State jihadist group Monday said they were prepared for street fighting inside their last stronghold.

A senior local official called for a US-led coalition against the extremists to step up air raids on the heavily armed forces attacking Kobani, located on Syria's border with Turkey.

"On the ground we are able to carry on the fight bravely, but we need the allied forces to help us by striking terrorist bases which have heavy weaponry," Anwar Muslim, prime minister of the self-declared Kurdish Kobani autonomous canton, told dpa.

"Our fighters as you know have been preparing for the big battle and the street fighting," he added. (DPA)

12:34 P.M. An activist group and a Kurdish official say gunmen defending a Syrian town near the border with Turkey have repelled a wide offensive by jihadi fighters.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a statement by the Kurdish force, known as YPK, say more than 45 fighters on both sides were killed Sunday near the town of Kobani.

The Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman said Monday that one of the attacks against Islamic State fighters was carried by a female Kurdish fighter who blew herself up, killing 10 jihadists.

The Kurdish official identified the suicide attacker as Deilar Kanj Khamis. (AP)

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