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Assad forces fight to take back key supply line from IS militants: report

Syrian government forces have battled against the "Islamic State" terrorist organization in a bid to regain ground outside Aleppo. The move comes as Russia ramps up airstrikes in the region.

Russian-backed Syrian forces launched an attack against the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group in an effort to retake a key road outside the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Saturday.

In what was seen as a blow to government forces, the militants cut off access to the road after launching a surprise attack on Friday. The road is considered crucial because it serves as a supply route to government-held areas of the city.

At least 28 IS fighters and 21 government soldiers were killed in the ensuing battle, the Observatory said.

Russia's moral - and military - support

Encouraged by the intervention of the Russian military in late September, forces under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have begun to take back some of the land claimed by IS. In addition to the areas surrounding Aleppo, soldiers have also launched ground strikes in parts of Hama and Homs provinces.

The fight outside Aleppo on Friday was backed by Russian airstrikes, according to the Observatory.

Assad

recently flew to Moscow

to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of the Syrian leader. The move was

criticized by the US

, who want to see Assad removed from power.

On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed Moscow had carried out 934 sorties and destroyed 819 militant targets. The country has been criticized in the past for attacking US-supported rebel forces, in addition to IS.

blc/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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