Islamic State fighters, who were ousted from the Kurdish border town of Kobani in January, have launched an offensive to recapture the Syrian city — setting off car bombs as a prelude to an attack, NPR's Deborah Amos reports.

Deborah, reporting from southern Turkey near the Syrian border, says thousands of Kurdish civilians have been coming to Kobani from Ar Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-declared Islamic State, after being forced out of the city by the Islamist extremists. Deborah says there are unconfirmed reports that Islamic State militants hid themselves among the returning refugees.

Al-Jazeera says its sources report that Islamic State fighters "were wearing Kurdish and Free Syrian Army uniforms ... as they attacked from three sides and took several positions inside the battleground town."

This latest attack comes as ISIS had lost ground due to the Kurdish militia backed by the U.S.

The Associated Press says that "in Kobani ... an activist group said 10 people died in fighting Thursday — the first time in six months the [Islamic State] had managed to enter the town along the Syria-Turkey border." The BBC put the number of dead at 30 and says that ISIS militants killed another 20 in a nearby village.

Meanwhile, "in the city of Hassakeh, Redur Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, said [ISIS] militants attacked government-held neighborhoods on the southern edge of the city, and captured some areas. Hassakeh is divided between Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and Kurdish fighters," the AP says.

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