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Syrian army retakes Arak gas field in Homs from Islamic State militants Open in fullscreen

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Syrian army retakes Arak gas field in Homs from Islamic State militants

The army is pressing an offensive to recapture the vast region [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 June, 2017

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The Syrian army has recaptured the Arak gas field in the central province of Homs from the Islamic State militant group.

The Syrian army retook a gas field in the country's centre from the Islamic State militant group on Thursday, a monitor said.

"Regime forces seized the Arak gas field" in the central province of Homs, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Arak, like much of the surrounding desert region of Badiya, had been in the hands of the militants since 2015.

The army is pressing an offensive to recapture the vast region, which stretches from central Syria to the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

The Arak gas field lies 35 kilometres (20 miles) northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra, which regime forces retook with Russian support in March after IS overran it in 2014.

The Observatory says the Syrian army now stands 25 kilometres to the south of the town of al-Sukhna, which lies even further northeast.

The recapture of al-Sukhna could allow the army to advance into the mostly IS-held province of Deir al-Zour.

On Saturday, the army said it holds more than 20 percent of the Badiya region, after reaching the Iraqi border for the first time since 2015.

The regime has lost control of many oil and gas fields since the start in 2011 of Syria's conflict, especially in the provinces of Homs and Deir al-Zour.

But the army has since regained some including the Jazal oil field, some 20 kilometres northwest of Palmyra.

The war has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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