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IS captures Syrian desert outpost in fierce battle with regime forces Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

IS captures Syrian desert outpost in fierce battle with regime forces

IS have maintained hideouts in central Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 April, 2020

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Islamic State group militants took over a Syrian regime military post, sparking fierce clashes and Russian air strikes as the group laid siege to the town of Sukhna.
Islamic State group militants in central Syria captured a military outpost near Sukhna, a town which lies between Palymra and Deir az-Zour, on Thursday, in the largest-scale attack by the militant group in the region for several years.

Initial reports said the militants had captured the town itself, but it later became apparents that only the outpost was seized.

Reports from various conflict monitors said that Russian planes launched strikes on the Al-Waar area, southeast of Sukhna, to push back IS militants attacking a regime outpost and military convoy in the Syrian desert, sparking fierce artillery clashes and shelling.

Syria expert Elizabeth Tsurkov said the reports had been confirmed by sources inside the Syrian regime army.

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Tsurkov called the attack a "major setback" for the regime.

"The regime has been incapable of stamping out ISIS' growing insurgency despite devoting greater resources to it after Turkey forced it to stop the Idlib depopulation campaign," she wrote in a Twitter post.

War monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said its activists had documented "gross human losses" on both sides, including at least 18 pro-regime soldiers and 11 IS fighters, but these figures have not yet been verified. 

Fighting broke out between Syrian regime forces and IS militants near Sukhna last year, including regime airstrikes on IS positions.

Syrian regime forces recaptured Sukhna from IS in 2017.

Although IS has largely been ousted from the swathes of Syrian and Iraqi territory it once held, it has remained able to carry out hit-and-run attacks on security forces in eastern Syria, specifically the vast Badia desert which stretches across the country through Homs province and eastwards to the Iraqi border.

Remaining IS factions have also murdered locals who have worked with Syrian Democratic Forces authorities.

In central Syria the militants have also retained a series of mountainous hideouts and launch frequent raids on checkpoints and civilian targets.

However the attack on Sukhna marks the first IS attack in years that goes beyond their previous tactics while in hiding.



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