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Syrian regime forces advance in desert region against IS

IS retain an estimated 3 percent of Syria, mostly pockets of the Badiya Desert [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 June, 2018

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Syrian regime forces have advanced against the Islamic State group after a wave of militant attacks in a central desert region.

Syrian regime forces have advanced against the Islamic State group after a wave of militant attacks in the country's central desert region, a monitor and state media said on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, IS militants have carried out several attacks in the vast Badiya Desert, killing dozens of regime troops and allied fighters.

"Regime forces launched counter-attacks against jihadist positions in the Syrian Badiya, notably to the east of Palmyra," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor.

Read more: Syria: The making and unmaking of a refugee state

On Wednesday, regime forces backed by Russian warplanes seized Hmeimeh between the central province of Homs and Deir Az-Zour on the eastern border with Iraq, he told AFP.

The Badiya is a vast desert region stretching from central Syria to the eastern border with Iraq, where IS still holds small pockets of territory.

A Syrian military source quoted by the official SANA news agency confirmed government troops were making progress.

"Army units are continuing their operations against the terrorist organisation Daesh (IS) in the Badiya east of Palmyra," the source said, adding they were in control of a large area on the border with Iraq.

The Islamic State group is estimated to control no more than three percent of Syria's territory.

Analsyts have warned of a potential resurgence by IS, as a rivalry between the Syrian regime and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces increases.

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