Islamic State kills dozens of US-backed fighters in eastern Syria, monitor says
- IS said it dispatched suicide bombers as part of a counter-attack against so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Islamic State has killed at least 60 US-backed fighters in Syria who are battling to oust the extremists from their eastern holdout of Hajin on the Iraqi border, a war monitor said on Saturday.
IS late on Friday dispatched suicide bombers as part of a counter-attack against the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The rebel fighters, who are backed by US-led air strikes, were killed between Friday night and Saturday morning, the Observatory said, raising the death toll from an earlier figure of 41.
In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, IS said it attacked the village of Sousa late on Friday and detonated a car bomb near the village of Al-Baghuza further south, down the Euphrates river.
The SDF last month launched an offensive against the militants in the Hajin pocket on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, in Deir Ezzor province. IS has staged a bloody fightback.
Since September 10, 270 rebel fighters and 496 IS fighters have been killed in the offensive, the Observatory says. The coalition estimates that 2,000 IS fighters are still in the Hajin area.
Last week, the Observatory said US-led aerial bombings killed 41 civilians in Sousa, 10 of them children, on October 18 and 19.
But the coalition said it targeted an IS command post on October 18, and denied carrying out any strikes in the area the following day.
IS overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” across land it controlled. But it has since lost most of that territory.
In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the Hajin pocket.