64 dead in clashes between Syria regime and Daesh: monitor

64 dead in clashes between Syria regime and Daesh: monitor
In this file photo, damaged buildings are pictured during the fighting with Daesh's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria, August 19, 2017. (File photo by REUTERS)
Updated 30 August 2017

64 dead in clashes between Syria regime and Daesh: monitor

64 dead in clashes between Syria regime and Daesh: monitor

BEIRUT: Fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and the Daesh group has killed 64 combatants in Raqqa province over a 24-hour period, a monitoring group said Wednesday.
The clashes come with the army pressing an advance through Raqqa, in northern Syria, toward neighboring Deir Ezzor, the only remaining province of the war-ravaged country still in the hands of Daesh jihadists.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the fighting had claimed the lives of 38 jihadists and 26 pro-regime combatants since Tuesday morning.
It takes to 145 the overall death toll in six days of fighting in villages on the banks of the Euphrates River in the east of Raqqa province, near Deir Ezzor.
Daesh said in a statement on Tuesday that its members had killed dozens of regime combatants in “intense fighting lasting hours.”
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the regime was fighting to secure a foothold in Raqqa province “in order to advance in Deir Ezzor.”
The jihadists have laid seige to government forces and civilians in the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor since 2015.
Earlier this month, government troops and allied fighters arrived at the outskirts of Madan, the last Daesh-held town in the countryside of eastern Raqqa province before Deir Ezzor.
But Daesh launched a counterattack last week that pushed the regime forces back, and fighting has since continued.
The Syria army operation in the area, backed by air support from ally Russia, is separate from the battle for provincial capital Raqqa city.
The effort to oust Daesh from the city is being led by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.