BEIRUT - At least 10 Syrian army soldiers, including an officer, were killed in clashes with Islamic State fighters on Tuesday in a rare ground confrontation between the two sides in the eastern Deir al-Zor province, a monitoring group said.
The clashes took place on Huwiejat Sakr, a small island in the Euphrates River located just southeast of Deir al-Zor city, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It is close to a government-controlled military air base, the last major outpost held by the Syrian army in the province.
"Violent clashes have been ongoing since the morning between Islamic State and an allied Islamist brigade on the one hand, and regime forces on the other," said Rami Abdulrahman who runs the Observatory.
Most of the rest of the province is in the hands of Islamic State, which has captured tracts of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq since the summer and has been the target of US-led airstrikes.