middle east

Russian-backed air strikes hit Islamic State in southern Syria: sources

[su_label type=”info”]SMA News – Agencies [/su_label][su_spacer size=”10″] Russian and Syrian jets stepped up their bombing of an Islamic State bastion along the Jordan-Israel border in southwestern Syria, as the militants pushed into areas abandoned by other rebel groups, diplomatic and opposition sources said.
Islamic State-affiliated forces entrenched in the Yarmouk Basin, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan, also repelled a ground attack by the Syrian army and its allies, the sources added.
The rural area has become the main battleground in the sensitive border region after a major Syrian army offensive backed by its Russian allies routed other rebel groups who were once supported by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
The Syrian army said its aerial strikes and shelling of militants in the Yarmouk Basin had killed “tens of terrorists” in a campaign whose goal it said was to crush militants.
An intelligence source told Reuters 1,000-1,500 Islamic State fighters had been holding their ground despite the 10-day-old bombing campaign that he said had hit villages and caused an “untold number” of civilian casualties.
A former resident in touch with relatives said thousands of civilians had fled bombed villages to areas held by the army or the rebels.
Another source familiar with the situation said Islamic State had actually been able to expand its territory over the last 20 hours by seizing at least 18 villages abandoned by other rebels under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

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