ISIS takes over Syrian town in Homs province

Clashes also rage on the outskirts of Sadad, a nearby town mostly inhabited by Christians.

November 1, 2015 11:04
1 minute read.
ISIS Kurds

A militiaman of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Tel Tawil village, northeast Syria, fires an anti-aircraft weapon in the direction of Islamic State fighters. (photo credit: RODI SAID / REUTERS)

BEIRUT - Islamic State fighters took control of the Syrian town of Maheen in the southwest Homs province on Sunday after an attack on government forces in the area, a monitoring group and a statement by the jihadists said.

The attack killed and wounded at least 50 fighters on the government side and brought Islamic State to within 20 km. of the main highway that links Damascus to Homs and cities further north, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Clashes also raged on the outskirts of Sadad, a nearby town mostly inhabited by Christians, as Islamic State fighters pressed their advance, the observatory said.

Meanwhile, a US-backed Syrian rebel alliance on Saturday announced a fresh offensive against Islamic State in the northeast province of Hasaka, a day after the United States said it would send special forces to advise insurgents fighting the jihadists.

It was the first declared operation by the Democratic Forces of Syria  which joins together a US-backed Kurdish militia and several Syrian Arab rebel groups, since it announced its formation earlier this month.

"We announce today the start of the first step in our military operations," a spokesman for the alliance's general command said in Arabic in a video statement posted on YouTube.

World powers and regional rivals are convening in Vienna to seek a solution to the four-year conflict in Syria that has escalated since Russia intervened a month ago with an intense air campaign.

The Kurdish YPG has been working closely with the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition since early this year, and has to date proved Washington's most effective partner on the ground against IS in Syria.

The United States, which announced on Friday it was to station its first ground troops in Syria for the war on Islamic State, has dropped ammunition to rebels in the north of Syria but without specifying which group the aid was intended for.

Hasaka province borders Iraq and Islamic State territory there, a crucial stronghold for the group. The YPG had pushed toward the border in previous fighting this year.

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