Syrian forces recapture Islamic State’s last stronghold in Homs

DAMASCUS, Khalil Hamlo (dpa) - Government forces have retaken control of Islamic State’s last bastion in Syria’s central province of Homs in the latest setback to the extremist militia, a monitoring group and military sources said on Sunday.
The recapture of the strategically important town of al-Sukhna in Homs late Saturday followed intense bombardment by regime and allied Russian warplanes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Retaking al-Sukhna allows government forces to advance on the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, which is mostly controlled by Islamic State militants.
Syrian forces, backed by Russian air power, on Sunday intensely shelled militants on a road linking al-Sukhna to Deir al-Zour, the Observatory reported.
Governnment troops and allied paramilitaries were meanwhile conducting a mopping-up operation inside al-Sukhna, the Britain-based watchdog added.
"Government forces entered the town of al-Sukhna following fierce clashes with Daesh gunmen, of whom hundreds were forced to flee towards Deir al-Zour,” a pro-government military commander said earlier, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
He told dpa on condition of anonymity that explosives experts were clearing the town of mines laid by hard-line jihadists.
Syria’s state news agency SANA, citing an unnamed military source, said that army units were tightening the noose around the remaining extremists in al-Sukhna.
“The terrorist groups are experiencing a big collapse in the town after most of their leaders have been killed and weaponry destroyed,” the official added without giving specific figures.
Islamic State took control of al-Sukhna in May 2015.
Al-Sukhna is located 70 kilometres east of the ancient town of Palmyra, which Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes retook from Islamic State in March.
The radical group has suffered military setbacks in recent months and lost ground in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Monday, August 7th 2017
Khalil Hamlo

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