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Middle East

ISIS militants seize parts of Syrian army base in Raqa

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-07

Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL) have seized parts of a military base in Syria's Raqa province in an assault that left dozens dead, a rights group said Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the extremist group, which calls itself the Islamic State, was engaged in heavy fighting with troops at Brigade 93 in Raqa, where it already controls the regional capital and significant amounts of territory.

The Observatory said that at least 27 Syrian troops had been killed, along with 11 jihadists. Three militants launched the assault by blowing themselves up at the entrance to the base on Wednesday night.

The Observatory said the militants "were in control of large parts of the base".

ISIS jihadists have recently seized a string of towns in northern Iraq and engaged in deadly clashes with Lebanese troops in the border town of Arsal.

The militant group, which began taking part in Syria's war in spring 2013, has since imposed near-total control in Raqa province and Deir Ezzor on the Iraq border.

Many regime troops had withdrawn to Brigade 93 last month, after ISIS seized the Division 17 base in fighting that left at least 85 soldiers dead, according to the Observatory.

The two-day assault on Division 17 saw more than 50 troops summarily executed, including some who were beheaded, with the jihadists later putting their severed heads on display.

That assault left nearly all of Raqa province under ISIS control, except Brigade 93 and Tabaqa military airport, which are still held by the army.

In June, the group proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq.

Some Western-backed rebels seeking President Bashar al-Assad's ouster initially welcomed ISIS as a potential ally in the fight against the regime.

But the extremist group's abuses and its quest for domination soon turned much of the more moderate anti-Assad opposition against it.

Syrian rebel groups have since declared a "second revolution" to fight against the jihadist group.

More than 170,000 people have died since Syria's civil war began in earnest in March 2011.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-08-07

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