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Syria: 'Islamic State' kills 35 government fighters

April 20, 2019

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has described the assaults as the group's deadliest operation since the fall of the "caliphate." Security analysts say "Islamic State" continues to be a potent fighting force.

Syrian SDF flag in Baghouz
Image: Getty Images/AFP/G. Cacace

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Saturday that the "Islamic State" (IS) jihadi group killed at least 35 Syrian government soldiers and allied fighters in attacks over the past two days. According to the monitoring group, four senior army officers were among the dead.

Read more: 'Islamic State' loses significant camp in final holdout territory Baghouz

The IS assault, which began on Thursday, took place in a desert area in the east of Homs province and north of the ancient city of Palmyra. The group carried out a separate attack in neighboring Deir Ezzor province on Thursday night, the Observatory said.

IS reportedly launched the attacks after government forces tried to track down its fighters.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman described the IS operation as the "biggest attack and the highest death toll among regime forces since the 'caliphate' was declared defeated."

Syria's US-backed Kurdish insurgents declared victory over IS almost a month ago. But commanders of the US-led coalition have repeatedly warned that the militant group's loss of their last piece of territory did not mean their elimination as a fighting force.

Read more: IS can still launch attacks in Germany: intelligence chief

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported an attack in Syria's Aleppo city on Saturday. The war monitor said the attack, which was perpetrated by a former al-Qaida affiliate, killed 13 regime fighters.

Reconstruction efforts

Meanwhile, several Russian envoys held meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday to discuss a proposed new constitution and ways to improve the war-torn country's ties with its Arab neighbors.

Read more: Russia plans for new Syria constitution in 18 months

Citing the government, Interfax news agency said that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov was scheduled to meet al-Assad in Damascus later on Saturday to talk about trade cooperation.

The international community has been pushing for political reforms and constitutional changes in Syria to end an eight-year war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced about half of Syria's population of 22 million.

Last year, Syria's opposition agreed to join the process of rewriting a new constitution under UN auspices, following a peacemaking conference in the Russian city of Sochi.

Moscow has been a close ally of al-Assad and in 2015 joined the Syrian war to support government forces.

Read more: Opinion: 'Islamic State' may fall, but will not vanish

shs/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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