Iraq News

ISIS ambush kills 21 regime fighters in southern Syria: monitor

An ambush by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has killed 21 regime fighters in Syria's southern province of Sweida, AFP reported Tuesday (September 11th).

The attack occurred late Monday in the rural Tulul al-Safa area of the province, some 100 kilometres southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eight extremists were also killed in subsequent clashes in the area, which is the extremists' last bastion in Sweida, the Observatory said.

State news agency SANA reported heavy clashes with ISIS in the area, adding that government aircraft and artillery "targeted hideouts and positions" held by the group.

Government forces have been fighting ISIS in Sweida's arid plains since extremists carried out a wave of attacks in the mainly Druze province on July 25th, killing 250 people according to the Observatory.

The attack in Sweida came as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advanced against the extremists on the border with Iraq, the Observatory said.

The Arab-Kurdish alliance has for months been closing in on the town of Hajin east of the Euphrates River near the Iraqi border, and on Monday launched an assault to retake it.

In the early hours of Tuesday, the SDF advanced inside the town with backing from the international coalition.

"They have seized control of the northwestern part of Hajin" after residents fled, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

An SDF commander said the offensive on Hajin aimed to oust an estimated 3,000 extremists, including a large portion of foreign fighters, from the town and surrounding areas.

"Most of the frontline commanders in this pocket are Iraqi," said Ahmad Abu Khawla, a commander with the Deir Ezzor Military Council, which is part of the SDF.

After humanitarian corridors were opened to allow residents to flee the ISIS-held area, most civilians remaining inside were "directly linked to the group -- hostages or the families of ISIS fighters", he said.

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