World / Middle East

Syria's air force strikes IS bases as ground clashes continue

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-04 21:09

DAMASCUS - Syrian airstrikes on Thursday pummeled Islamist insurgents, including militants from the Islamic State, targeting their bases throughout the country, as government troops continue to clash with militants, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian war jets have carried out at least nine airstrikes since Thursday morning, targeting rebel bases in the suburb of Jobar in the eastern rim of the capital Damascus, said the Observatory, a UK-based watchdog group that relies on a network of activists on ground.

The Observatory did not include details about rebel casualties in Jobar, which has been subjected to a wide-scale military offensive by government troops since last Thursday.

Rebel influence in Jobar, which lies 2 km northeast of the walls of the old city of Damascus, has threatened the administration of President Bashar al-Assad because the suburb neighbors the government-controlled eastern districts of the capital. Throughout the country's four-year civil war, rebels in the suburb have repeatedly attempted to breach the capital from Jobar.

In the country's north, the province of al-Raqqa is completely under the control of the Islamic State, an al-Qaida break-away group that is also known as IS. The Syrian air force have struck an IS training compound in the city, injuring many, the Observatory said.

Syrian war jets also raided IS bases in the oil-rich province of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria close to the Iraq border.

The war jets struck the town of Eshara in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour, said the Observatory, adding that two people were killed and four others wounded, some of whom are in critical condition.

During the last few months, the Islamic State has succeeded in seizing control of large chunks of territories in Deir al-Zour, capturing also the majority of the oilfields in that province.

In the southern province of al-Qunaitera, on the borders with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, battles between the Syrian army and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and other radical militant groups continued on Thursday amid reports that the rebels are advancing in several areas in that province.

The intense battles in al-Qunaitera started on Aug. 27 when an array of radical militant groups seized the border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing 20 Syrian soldiers. Since then, battles continued unabated between government troops and militant groups.

Meanwhile, the state news agency SANA said the Syrian army targeted rebel bases in the northern province of Aleppo and the southern province of Daraa, leaving undisclosed number of casualties among the rebels.

The surge in rebel attacks came just days after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Aug. 15, which authorized international actions that suppress support for Islamist militants, especially of the al-Nusra Front and Islamic State, who have recently established what they call an "Islamic Caliphate" in areas under their control in Syria and Iraq.

The Islamic State, led by the shadowy figure Abu Bakr Baghdadi, has made strides against government troops in both Iraq and Syria. The group was originally formed in Iraq and served as the al-Qaida franchise there before breaking away to spread further outside of Iraq and into Syria. It now has claimed authority over large swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria.

Top Syrian officials stressed recently that the Syrian government is ready to cooperate with international powers on fighting terrorism as long as the sovereignty of Syria is respected and their actions are coordinated with the Syrian government.


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