BEIRUT Dec 9 Islamic State seized more
territory from Syrian government forces near the ancient city of
Palmyra on Friday in fierce clashes that raged for a second day,
the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
The jihadists launched an attack late on Thursday in which
they captured grain silos northeast of Palmyra and have since
taken at least partial control of oil and gas fields to its
Dozens of Syrian troops have been killed in the fighting,
the British-based Observatory, which tracks the war using
sources on the ground, said.
Syrian warplanes were carrying out air raids in the area in
an effort to take back positions lost.
The fighting was some of the fiercest in the area since the
Syrian army recaptured Palmyra after nearly two years in March,
driving out the ultra-hardline militants who had destroyed large
parts of the city's UNESCO World Heritage ruins.
Islamic State has been on the back foot in both Syria and
Iraq since late last year, losing much of its territory in both
countries as well as some of its most senior figures, killed in
The group took advantage of chaos during Syria's civil war
to seize territory there and in Iraq in the summer of 2014.
Syria's civil war pits President Bashar al-Assad, backed by
Iran, Russia and Shi'ite militias against mostly Sunni rebels.
(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Janet Lawrence)