Syrian Army Regains Ground Against Islamic State

AMMAN (Reuters) -

The Syrian army said on Sunday it had repulsed a major offensive by Islamic State forces in the northeastern city of Hasaka and driven out fighters who had taken over key installations on the southern edge of the city.

The northeastern corner of Syria is strategically important because it links areas controlled by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Syrian Kurds have also sought to expand their territorial control over a region stretching from Kobani to Qamishili they see as part of a future Kurdish state.

Islamic State fighters, approaching from their stronghold the city of Shadadi, south of Hasaka city, made lighting advances this week after conducting around a dozen suicide attacks using explosives-laden trucks at army checkpoints in the city.

But Syrian state media, quoting an army source, said in a newsflash they had taken back an electricity station, a juvenile prison and two villages almost two kilometers (one mile) south of the city that had been occupied by terrorists.

The army announced later that the Syrian air force had bombed IS posts in a string of villages south of Hasaka, including Tel Fawaz, Mishrafa, Makhroum, Tel Baroud and Um Madfaa which it said had killed “tens of terrorists and destroyed their vehicles”.