Islamic State group jihadists killed at least 26 members of Syrian government forces today in an assault on regime positions in the central province of Homs, a monitor said. IS launched simultaneous attacks near the Mahr and Shaar oil and gas fields and elsewhere in the desert in eastern Homs where clashes were continuing, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“IS was able to take control of seven checkpoints and other positions held by government forces, who were forced to withdraw amid fierce clashes,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
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IS once held several key towns in Homs, including ancient Palmrya, but has been driven from all but the desert in the east of the province.
It now regularly attacks isolated army positions in the area, as well as oilfields under government control. Some northern parts of Homs are held by various rebel groups, but the government holds the rest of the province.
Elsewhere in the country, the Observatory said at least 22 civilians had been killed in air strikes on several parts of northern Syria under IS control.
The group said 11 people were killed in a strike believed to have been carried out by the US-led coalition fighting IS in the village of Al-Mashrifa in Raqa province overnight.
Another three people were killed in strikes, also believed to have been carried out by coalition aircraft, on the village of Al-Abarah in Raqa, the monitor said.
The Observatory says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.
The US-led coalition says it investigates credible reports of civilian casualties in its strikes and has acknowledged a handful of civilian deaths in Syria since it began raids there in September 2014.
Raqa is home to IS’s de facto Syrian capital, Raqa city, though a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the US-led coalition began an operation to recapture the city and surrounding province last month.
Elsewhere, the Observatory said eight people were killed in strikes on the IS-held village of Bzaa in northeast Aleppo this morning.
The monitor said it could not confirm who was behind those strikes, but the area is one where both Turkey and the US-led coalition operate.
Turkey began an unprecedented operation inside northern Syria dubbed “Euphrates Shield” on August 22, saying it was targeting both IS but also Kurdish militants that have battled the jihadist group.