Clashes in the Syrian desert between Russia-backed Syrian government forces and Islamic State group jihadists killed 11 regime loyalists Wednesday, a Britain-based war monitor said.
Mobile IS units have remained active in the Badia desert since the jihadists lost the last shred of their self-proclaimed caliphate in March last year.
A group of IS militants on Wednesday ambushed a Syrian regime convoy deployed to the desert to sweep it for jihadist hideouts, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The subsequent clashes killed at least 11 regime and pro-government fighters, including a Syrian army general, the monitor added.
At least 17 other pro-government forces were wounded in the fighting some 70 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of the town of Al-Mayadeen.
Intermittent fighting, mostly in the Badia, has killed more than 980 regime fighters and 140 allied Iran-backed combatants since March 2019, as well as more than 530 IS jihadists, the Observatory said.
IS overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, declaring a proto-state there, before military campaigns in both countries led to its territorial defeat.
In recent months, however, IS jihadists have demanded tax payments from residents of certain towns and villages in eastern Syria, according to the Observatory.
Some of those who have refused to comply have been murdered as a result, the monitor added.
The jihadist group has also upped attacks on regime forces in the Badia desert.
In October, IS was locked in fierce clashes with Damascus and its Russian backers.
Earlier in August, the group claimed an attack that killed a Russian general near the city of Deir Ezzor.