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Daesh Syria ambush kills 15 pro-gov’t fighters — monitor

Analysts have long feared a resurgence of extremist organisation

By AFP - Jun 20,2022 - Last updated at Jun 20,2022

A Syrian boy, displaced with his family from Deir Ezzor, watches inside the damaged building where she is living in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa, on June 18 (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — An ambush claimed by extremists on a bus in remote eastern Syria left at least 15 pro-government fighters dead on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The war monitoring group said it was not immediately clear if those killed were from the regular army or allied militia.

The attack claimed by Daesh took place on the road linking the city of Raqqa, which used to be a major Daesh hub and is under Kurdish control, to the government-controlled city of Homs.

The observatory said several other fighters were critically wounded.

Daesh claimed the attack in a statement released by its Amaq propaganda wing, saying its fighters shot dead 13 people on board the bus before burning it.

The official state-run agency SANA confirmed 13 dead and quoted military sources as saying the ambush was staged at around 6:30am (0330 GMT).

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said it was the deadliest of its kind since a similar attack in early March also killed 15 in the Palmyra region.

Another 10 soldiers and allied pro-gov’t forces were killed in an attack last month on an army bus by non-Daesh rebel forces in the northern province of Aleppo. This was the heaviest death toll reported in pro-government ranks from a rebel attack since a truce agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey in March 2020.

Before Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict, the gov’t of President Bashar Assad controlled barely a fifth of the national territory.

With Russian and Iranian support, Damascus clawed back much of the ground lost in the early stages of the war, which erupted in 2011 when the government brutally repressed pro-democracy protests.

Its once sprawling self-proclaimed “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria was defeated in March 2019 by US-backed local forces. But it has continued to carry out attacks against gov’t and Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria.

Raqqa was once the de facto capital of the Daesh “caliphate”, which covered territory the size of Britain, printed its own schoolbooks, minted its own currency and collected taxes.

Analysts have long feared a resurgence of the extremist organisation but it still has no fixed positions and the intensity of its attacks has remained largely unchanged since 2019.

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