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250 Syrians feared kidnapped after IS attack on factory east of Damascus

An image made available by Jihadist media outlet Welayat Raqa, allegedly shows members of the Islamic State group parading in a street in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of Raqa
Welayat Raqa/AFP/File
Three wounded in Turkey as 'IS rockets' hit town center

Around 250 Syrian civilians are feared kidnapped after an attack by the Islamic State jihadist group on a cement factory east of Damascus, residents told AFP on Thursday.

"We haven't been able to reach our family members since noon on Monday after an attack by Daesh on the factory," said a resident of the town of Dmeir, 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Damascus, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

"We have no information about where they are," the resident added.

An administrator at the plant said 250 employees had been unreachable since Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "dozens" of staff were believed to have been seized by IS from the cement factory and taken to an unknown location.

The Badiyah cement factory lies outside Dmeir, which has seen fierce fighting in recent days as government forces have shelled IS positions inside the town.

The Observatory said 18 civilians were killed in government shelling of the town.

A Syrian security source told AFP that IS fighters had also tried to seize the nearby Dmeir airbase and power plant from the government but had failed.

Earlier this week airstrikes killed several Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front members including its spokesman and regime forces have retaken a strategic town from the Islamic State group in the latest setbacks for jihadists in Syria.

Abu Firas al-Suri, whose real name was Radwan Nammous, fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan where he met Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the founding father of global jihad, Abdullah Azzam, before returning to Syria in 2011.

Three wounded in Turkey as 'IS rockets' hit town center

Three people were wounded on Thursday when two Katyusha-type rockets fired from an area in Syria controlled by Islamic State (IS) jhadists slammed into the center of a Turkish town close to the Syrian border, a report said.

The rockets hit the center of the town of Kilis at around 0545 GMT, the Dogan news agency reported. Ambulances were sent to the scene as police threw a security cordon around the area.

Dogan said one of the rockets hit a building used by Syrian refugees and two of those wounded were Syrian citizens.

Another person was wounded by the second rocket and police also evacuated a school nearby.

Pictures broadcast by Turkish television showed the rockets had badly damaged masonry and windows on one building.

Kilis, where according to Turkish officials Syrian refugees now outnumber the native Turkish population, has been hit several times by IS fire.

In March, two people including a four-year-old child were killed by rocket fire there, while in January a janitor was killed and pupil wounded when IS fire hit a school.

Turkey has on occasion been accused by its western allies of not doing enough to combat the threat of IS, which captured swathes of Iraq and Syria right up to its border.

But Ankara is now playing a key role in the US-led anti-IS coalition and hosting foreign warplanes at its Incirlik airbase for strikes on the group.

The latest attack comes after Turkish armed forces launched repeated artillery strikes in the last weeks on IS positions in Syria.

A fragile ceasefire backed by Turkey has taken effect in Syria, but the deal does not apply to territory held by the IS group and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Turkey has also been hit by attacks blamed on IS jihadists, including two deadly suicide bombings in Istanbul that targeted foreign tourists.

Staff with agencies

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