35 Syrian soldiers killed in clashes with ISIS near Raqqa

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ISIS militants in Raqqa. File photo

ARA News

RAQQA – At least 35 Syrian army soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded on Sunday during clashes with Islamic State’s (ISIS) fighters near the administrative border of Raqqa province, northeastern Syria, activists reported.

Clashes erupted between the Syrian regime’s forces and ISIS militants near the Tabqa town on Sunday evening, one day after the Syrian army made an advance against the group southeast Raqqa province. 

“Corpses of over 35 Syrian soldiers were collected subsequent to the clashes that took place about 40km from the ISIS-held Tabqa military airport in Raqqa countryside,” a member of the Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) activist group told ARA News. 

In the meantime, the Russian warplanes launched several airstrikes on Raqqa, hitting ISIS fighting positions.

“In support of the Syrian regime forces, the Russian fighter jets bombed tactical units and fighting positions for ISIS, killing more than 50 ISIS fighters on Sunday midnight,” the source reported.

Regime advances towards Raqqa as SDF continues fighting ISIS

On Saturday, forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have reached the border of Raqqa province in northeastern Syria, in preparation to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) in the group’s de facto capital, military sources reported. 

Supported by a Russian air cover, the Syrian army and allied militias have reached the southeastern border of Raqqa province. 

This comes amid continuous fighting between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS militants in the northern countryside of Raqqa, where the Kurdish-led SDF has recaptured dozens of villages and farms over the past few days. 

On the other hand, the Syrian regime troops try to take part in the battle for Raqqa with the support of Russia. 

“Our forces have reached the administrative borders of Raqqa province after killing a number of Daesh terrorists,” a Syrian army officer told ARA News, using another acronym for ISIS. 

“This is a Syrian land, and the Syrian army is the only legitimate force to regain control of those areas from all terrorist groups, including those supported by the West,” he said, in reference to the SDF as a US-backed Syrian force. 

Noteworthy, the Syrian regime troops had no presence in Raqqa province since summer 2014, when ISIS took over the air base of Tabqa and executed a number of army soldiers. 

Commenting on the Syrian army advance, SDF official Habun Osman told ARA News: “The Assad regime withdrew their forces from Raqqa in August 2014 and left it to ISIS. Now they try to return to the province after witnessing the SDF progress against ISIS in northern Raqqa.”

“We, as Kurds, Arabs, Christians and other components of northern Syria, have been fighting those terrorists for years, while pro-Assad troops handed over all those areas to ISIS and headed to other places to defend the regime,” Osman said. 

“We are here defending the people, while they’re playing political games. This is our fight, once Raqqa is liberated it will be run by its own people not by a regime that has killed thousands of innocent civilians,” the SDF official told ARA News. 

Reporting by: Ahmed Shish and Eyaz Ciziri 

Source: ARA News

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