Militant attacks on Syrian forces kill dozens
Syrian government forces came under separate attacks from Islamic State militants and al Qaeda-linked insurgents in different parts of the country that killed nearly 50 soldiers and allied fighters, activists and a war monitoring group said Saturday.
In one attack, Islamic State militants ambushed Syrian government forces in the desert of central Homs province Thursday night, setting off two days of clashes that killed 27 soldiers, including four officers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A pro-government militia, known as Liwa al-Quds, confirmed the ambush, saying it had sent its fighters to liberate the two besieged battalions, made up of nearly 500 soldiers, east of al-Sukhna.
In a Facebook post, the militia said it successfully broke the siege and liberated the surviving soldiers before pulling the bodies of those killed and damaged vehicles to safety.
The Islamic State group lost its last territories in Syria in March after months of battles with U.S-backed Kurdish-led fighters in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. But the militants remain active in the desert to the west of Deir el-Zour, where they have taken refuge and increasingly target government troops and allied militia.
Separately, government forces came under attack from insurgents of al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahir al-Sham in northwestern Syria, where a cease-fire is supposed to be in place.
The Observatory said the insurgents assaulted the government positions west of Aleppo early Saturday, killing 21 soldiers and allied fighters. Baladi news, an activist-operated news site, said the attack in Akrab village killed 27 soldiers. Akrab overlooks the Aleppo-Damascus highway.