Over 120 Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) militants were killed in 24 hours following fierce clashes between Syrian government forces and the terrorist group in central Syria, a report said.
More than 120 Daesh militants “were killed in clashes in and around the town of Uqayribat in the eastern Hama countryside … along with at least 35 regime troops…,” the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, AFP reported.
The town is the terrorist group’s last bastion in the central province apart from a handful of small villages.
Pro-government forces seized Uqayribat on Friday night, but Daesh responded with a counter-offensive Saturday that left it in control of most of the town, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
An intense barrage of artillery fire and Syrian and Russian air strikes on extremist positions allowed Syrian forces Sunday morning to push the Takfiri militants back out of the town and advance on villages to the west that remain under Daesh control.
Daesh has controlled Uqayribat since 2014, using it to launch attacks on government-held areas and a strategically vital road Abdel Rahman described as “the only lifeline for the regime between Aleppo and central and southern Syria”.
Syrian forces, backed by heavy Russian airstrikes, launched a major assault on Daesh-held parts of Hama in June.
“By consolidating their control of (Uqayribat) and ousting (Daesh) from the surrounding villages, Syrian forces could oust the organization from the whole of Hama province,” Abdel Rahman said.
Other rebel groups still control parts of the province’s rural north.
Hama, which borders on six other Syrian provinces, is strategically vital to the Assad government, separating opposition forces in Idlib from Damascus to the south and Syria’s coastal heartlands to the west.
Daesh has suffered multiple defeats across Syria and neighboring Iraq in recent months, particularly in Deir ez-Zor.
Syrian troops and their allies have advanced against Daesh in the eastern part of Homs province and western Deir ez-Zor, where they have come to within 19 kilometers of the provincial capital.