BEIRUT,— Islamic State group fighters executed at least 23 Syrian Kurds, among them women and children, in a village south of the border town of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan on Thursday, a monitor said.“Islamic State forces shot dead at least 23 people in the Kurdish village of Barkh Butan, including women and children and residents who had taken up arms to fight,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

IS launched a surprise attack on Kobani on Thursday, using at least two suicide car bombs and clashing with Kurdish forces.

Kobani, on the border with Turkey, is an important symbol in the battle against the jihadists, having been secured by Kurdish militia with US-led air support in January after four months of ferocious fighting.

IS fighters briefly entered Barkh Butan, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Kobani, in the morning but withdrew after coalition air strikes and the arrival of Kurdish forces, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

At least five jihadists were killed in clashes with residents, the Observatory said.

Arin Shekhmos, a Kurdish activist in northern Syria, confirmed the executions.

“IS committed a massacre in Barkh Butan, killing some 23 civilians,” Shekhmos said.

Shekhmos also told AFP earlier Thursday that IS had entered Syria from Turkey through the Mursitpinar border crossing. Shekhmos said IS forces were wearing Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) uniforms as a disguise when they entered.

Turkey on Thursday denied “baseless” claims that Islamic State (IS) militants reentered the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan through the Turkish border crossing to detonate a suicide bomb.

In the months since, forces of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have advanced from Kobani in Aleppo province into neighbouring Raqa province, the jihadists’ stronghold.

In recent days, they captured the strategic town of Gire Spi (Tel Abyad), also on the border with Turkey, and pushed towards IS’s de facto Syrian capital of Raqa city in the Euphrates valley to the south.

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