Syrian Army losing ground to Islamic State in Homs

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Syrian army troops are seen during clashes with rebel fighters in Homs. File photo

ARA News

Homs – After fierce clashes with Syrian Army soldiers on Saturday, Islamic State (ISIS) militants seized control of several sub-districts in eastern Homs Governorate.

ISIS jihadists initiated the clashes by storming the military outposts near al-Mahr oilfield. The jihadists then shelled the army’s local headquarters with mortar and artillery fire, forcing its defenders to withdraw towards Tiyas airbase.

“At least 19 regime soldiers were killed in Saturday’s offensive,” media activist Amro al-Hussein told ARA News in Homs. “The army was forced to retreat from the Ertiwaziyah District and al-Burj Hill.”

According to al-Hussein, “ISIS is now in control of both locations.” ISIS also seized three military checkpoints in eastern Homs Governorate after dislodging the army.

ISIS has repeatedly tried to storm the fortified hilltops which abut the al-Mahr oilfield, employing VBIEDs and suicide squads. However, in the past, their movements were disrupted by Russian airstrikes, which targeted the jihadists’ fighting positions and vehicles.

The Islamic State recently brought reinforcements to Homs’ eastern countryside. Their immediate objectives are to isolate the Deir ez-Zor pocket, conquer Palmyra and create strategic depth. If successful, the extremist group with likely push on to Homs city.

Reporting by: Haytham Mustafa | Source: ARA News

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