Monday 21 August 2017

Syrian troops repulse Islamic State attack in southern Aleppo

Syrian soldiers and allied fighters repulsed an IS attack on a government-held area in southern Aleppo
Syrian soldiers and allied fighters repulsed an IS attack on a government-held area in southern Aleppo

An attack by Islamic State on an area held by the Syrian government in southern Aleppo province has been repulsed by troops and allied fighters, the military reports.

It said IS attacked Um Mayyal village near a mountain range in Khanaser, and other areas, and the IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency claimed the group killed 30 government soldiers in the assault on the village.

IS fighters assaulted military posts in the area, triggering intense clashes and leaving many casualties, said British-based opposition group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Khanaser, south-east Aleppo, is a strategic region linking Aleppo with central and western Syria.

The area has changed hands many times but government troops and allied fighters wrested control of Khanaser from IS last year.

Also on Saturday, dozens were killed when hundreds of Syrians from the rebel-held suburbs of eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, protested against infighting between the insurgent groups that began on Friday.

The Observatory said shots were fired at the protesters in one area, leaving five injured.

At least 38 insurgents from the warring sides were killed in 24 hours of fighting, said the Observatory, although Damascus-based Shaam News Network put the number at 60, in addition to six civilians killed.

Activists reported a heavy air campaign against the area's Qaboun neighbourhood on Saturday.

The infighting came amid an intensified government offensive in the area near Damascus, which the rebels have controlled for years but has been increasingly squeezed by government advances.

"God rid us of all leaders," the protesters chanted, criticising the head of the insurgent groups for diverting their weapons from the front line with the government.

The infighting is pitting the powerful Army of Islam group against al-Rahman Corps and al Qaida-linked group the Levant Liberation Committee, or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Each side blames the other for triggering the fighting in the power struggle over control of eastern Ghouta. Some activists have called on Army of Islam to rid eastern Ghouta of the powerful al Qaida-linked group.

The government has been unable to regain control of the eastern suburbs of Damascus for three years but an intensified offensive points to a new determination to retake the area.

AP

Press Association

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