ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Islamic State (IS) launched a surprise attack southeast of Syria’s Deir al-Zor Province, killing over a dozen Syrian government forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday.
The attack occurred in the al-Mayadin region—about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iraqi border—where Syrian troops aligned with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime are deployed.
The SOHR said Syrian forces eventually repelled the IS attack after heavy clashes but suffered many casualties.
Despite Assad and his Russian allies declaring victory over the extremist group in December, IS continues to launch attacks in the country’s east, including assassinations, kidnappings, and bombings.
On Monday, IS-affiliated media claimed the group overran a Syrian army checkpoint near the city of Albu Kamal along the Iraqi border, killing hundreds and recapturing some territory, The National reported.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said the US-led coalition has “seen a resurgence” of IS fighters “coming back and attacking with success pro-regime forces” in areas west of the Euphrates River.
The US military and its allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are a majority, do not operate in areas west of the river, which is under the control of Syrian government forces.
The coalition has been able to hold an effective line against IS and have made significant gains against the group in the east, but the extremists have been able to regain control of areas in the west, Dillon said.
“There [have] been IS elements who have been able to come back and take territory in some of the neighborhood in southern Damascus,” he noted.
Turkey’s January operation into Syrian Kurdistan’s Afrin region hindered the campaign against IS by prompting many YPG forces to leave their frontlines to defend the Kurdish enclave.
The coalition, Dillon explained, was “urging” the fighters to return, so “we can build up combat power and start to push again in these areas to take ground” from IS.