The Islamic State jihadist group expelled Syrian regime troops Monday from the northern province of Raqqa in a lightning counter-offensive that killed 40 regime soldiers, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists’ attack was launched late on Sunday following a regime offensive into the IS stronghold of Raqqa on June 3 that advanced around 20 kilometers (12 miles) toward the town of Tabqa.
“Daesh (IS) has managed to drive out regime troops from the administrative borders of Raqqa province after a fierce counter-offensive,” the Britain-based group said.
It said the jihadists had sent hundreds of reinforcements from their de facto capital of Raqqa city to defend Tabqa, which has a dam and an air base, located 50 kilometers to the west.
“More than 40 members of the pro-regime forces were killed,” said the Observatory, which relies on a vast network of sources on the ground for its information.
Jihadist losses were unavailable.
Syrian troops, backed by Russian air strikes, in early June pushed into Raqqa for the first time since 2014, aiming for the country’s largest dam at Tabqa on the Euphrates River.