After reverses, ISIL attacks Syrian forces near Damascus

After reverses, ISIL attacks Syrian forces near Damascus

BEIRUT - Reuters
After reverses, ISIL attacks Syrian forces near Damascus

An ISIL militant fires a weapon in this still image taken from a video said to be taken on the outskirts of Palmyra and uploaded on March 21, 2016 by an agency affiliated to ISIL - Reuters photo

The Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) militants launched attacks on government-held areas near Damascus overnight on April 6 in an apparent response to the group's loss of ground elsewhere in Syria. 

The jihadist group said in a statement it had attacked the Tishrin power station 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the capital and a Syrian military source acknowledged the group had staged assaults, but said all those who took part had been killed. 

Syrian and allied forces backed by Russian air strikes have forced ISIL militants out of the town of al-Qaryatain, 100 km (60 miles) west of the ancient city of Palymrya, itself recaptured by the government last week. 

The Syrian military source said Tuesday night's attacks outside Damascus appeared to be the jihadist group's response to its reverses around Palymra. 

ISIL has also been losing ground to U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria, and in recent days to rebel groups fighting a separate battle against the group north of Aleppo. 

ISIL attackers, using five bomb-laden cars, also struck military positions near the airport, southeast of Damascus, killing 12 soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based organisation that tracks the war, said. 

Government forces responded with shelling and air strikes in that area, and jets also struck the town of Dumeir, 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Damascus, which is held by a rebel group sympathetic to ISIL, the Observatory said. 

It added that the strikes killed at least nine civilians there and that around 15 ISIL militants, as well as the drivers of its five bomb-laden cars, died in the clashes. 

The Syrian military source said 13 of the group's fighters had been killed in clashes in the area around Dumeir.