Beirut: Syrian regime forces have advanced against the Islamic State group after a wave of jihadist attacks in a central desert region, a monitor and state media said on Wednesday.
In recent weeks, the Sunni Muslim extremists have carried out several attacks in the vast Badiya desert, killing dozens of regime troops and allied fighters.
“Regime forces launched counter-attacks against jihadist positions in the Syrian Badiya, notably to the east of Palmyra,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.
On Wednesday regime forces backed by Russian warplanes seized Hmeimeh between the central province of Homs and Deir Ezzor on the eastern border with Iraq, he told AFP.
The Badiya is a vast desert region stretching from central Syria to the eastern border with Iraq, where IS still holds small pockets.
A Syrian military source quoted by the official SANA news agency confirmed government troops were making progress.
“Army units are continuing their operations against the terrorist organisation Daesh (IS) in the Badiya east of Palmyra,” the source said, adding they were in control of a large area on the border with Iraq.
The Islamic State group is estimated to control no more than three percent of Syria’s territory.