Isis has managed to recapture a town deep inside Syrian-regime controlled territory in a successful counteroffensive as it fights to defend its last strongholds in the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said.
At least 153 Syrian army soldiers and allied militias such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah have lost their lives in heavy fighting since 28 September which culminated in Isis seizing the town of al-Qaryatayn in Homs province on Monday, the UK-based monitor said.
There has been no comment from the Syrian army on the status of the town, which is some 300 kilometres (190 miles) from the nearest Isis stronghold of Deir Ezzor.
Unconfirmed activist reports on social media said that Isis had carried out mass murders of either captured Syrian army soldiers or civilians believed to have links to the government.
Footage shows Isis schoolgirl Linda Wenzel being captured in Iraq
The reports come after the Syrian army denied reports last week that it had lost control of parts of the Deir Ezzor – Palmyra highway in the eastern desert after fierce suicide bomb and mortar attacks from jihadists.
The latest Isis counter offensive across eastern Syria has killed as many as 270 of the regime’s forces across the country, SOHR said. Up to 120 Isis militants, including suicide bombers, are thought to have died.
Syrian media, speculating on how the attack was possible, said it was supposedly carried out by some of the 200 Isis fighters who were bussed across Syria after an evacuation deal from their positions on the Lebanese-Syrian border last month.
Isis has also been known to use sleeper cells, often dressed in the uniforms of government or Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) soldiers, to carry out attacks behind enemy lines.
In pictures: Isis’ weapons factories
Isis was forced out of al-Qaryatayn in April 2016 after first seizing it in August 2015.
While the surprise counter attacks from militants may have caught regime…