48 dead as IS fights army in Syria´s Homs

BEIRUT: The Islamic State jihadist group has seized large parts of a strategically located town in Syria´s central Homs province in clashes that killed 48 soldiers and militants, a monitor said Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the extremist group had captured areas of Al-Sukhnah and its surroundings in fighting that began overnight.

The town lies on the highway that leads from eastern Deir Ezzor province, an IS stronghold, to the ancient town of Palmyra.

Palmrya is controlled by the regime and home to spectacular Greco-Roman ruins that are listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

“The Islamic State managed to advance in Al-Sukhnah and take control of large parts of the town and the surrounding areas,” the Britain-based Observatory said, adding that clashes were continuing Wednesday.

The group said at least 28 regime forces — soldiers and pro-government militants — and 20 IS fighters had been killed in the battles.
More than 100 fighters from both sides were wounded, the monitor said.