Middle East

IS Group Claims Deadly Syria Attacks on Pro-Government Forces

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Friday for attacks that killed dozens of pro-government forces and soldiers in the Syrian desert this week, in one of the deadliest such assaults this year.

IS fighters “attacked two barracks of the Syrian army and the National Defence Forces the day before yesterday, Wednesday, with medium and light weapons,” the group said in a statement on the jihadists’ Amaq news agency.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor had previously said the attacks killed at least 34 pro-government fighters and soldiers.

The jihadists launched “simultaneous attacks” at dawn on checkpoints and military positions between Raqa, Homs, and Deir Ezzor, said the Britain-based group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.

IS proclaimed a “caliphate” in June 2014 across swathes of Syria and Iraq and launched a reign of terror.

It was defeated territorially in Syria in 2019 but its remnants continue to carry out deadly hit-and-run attacks and ambushes, particularly from desert hideouts, targeting both pro-government forces and Kurdish-led fighters.

IS was blamed for a string of deadly attacks on government loyalists earlier this year.

In August, 33 Syrian soldiers were killed when IS ambushed their bus in the desert near Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province, the Observatory said at the time.

Days earlier, 10 government loyalists were killed in an IS attack in Raqa province, the jihadists’ former stronghold in Syria, the Observatory reported.

Also in August, the jihadists attacked a convoy of oil tanker trucks guarded by the army in the Syrian desert, killing seven people including two civilians.

The same month, IS announced the death of its leader and named his replacement — the group’s fifth chief — as Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.

Syria’s war broke out in 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad‘s security forces crushed peaceful pro-democracy protests, later drawing in foreign powers and global jihadists.

The conflict has killed more than 500,000 people and driven half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.

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