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Syrian regime and IS fighters clash in eastern desert

Syrian regime forces clashed with IS in the desert [AFP-file photo]

Date of publication: 6 March, 2019

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The campaign takes place as another IS contingent remains holed-up in eastern Syria.

Fighting has resumed between Syrian regime forces and Islamic State group militants in central Syria this week, one of the last hold-outs of the jihadi group in the country.

The clashes took place close to al-Sukhna, a town which lies between Palymra and Deir az-Zour, on Monday, with regime airstrikes hitting the IS positions, according to Reuters.

"A number of air strikes targeting [IS] movements in the eastern Badiya, specifically on one of the dirt roads leading to the town of al-Sukhna and southeast of the town," pro-regime al-Watan newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Fighting between the two sides also broke out on Monday in the desert region of Syria although there were no reports of casualties.

Al-Sukhna lies close to the ancient site and city of Palmyra, which was controlled by IS until a Russian-backed offensive pushed them out of the area in 2017 and captured al-Sukhna in July that year.

IS militants control other small pockets of territory in the deserts of eastern and central Syria.

Hundreds of IS fighters remain in the village of al-Baghouz in the far-east of Syria, close to the Iraqi border, with a final US-backed offensive on the hold-out expected to take place soon.

Hundreds of civilians and fighters have been leaving the village with a small force of die-hard militants remaining, who are said to be ready to make a final stand against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

IS captured large parts of Syria from 2014, with the group making the eastern city of Raqqa its self-declared capital.

A US-backed SDF offensive has pushed them out of their stronghold in eastern Syria, while separate regime and Turkish-Syrian rebel offensives have also diminished the group's reach.

Experts have warned of a potential re-surgence of IS following their military defeat.

A small force of IS fighters launched an operation against Druze villages in southern Syria last year, killing hundreds of civilians and kidnapping dozens more.

Syrian regime forces launched an offensive on IS positions in the volcanic hills of al-Safa.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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