Middle East

Syria reinforces air base under ISIS attack

A woman walks beside graffiti in Maaloula August 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki)

BEIRUT: Syrian government forces have sent reinforcements to an air base being attacked by ISIS militants in northeast Syria where no fewer than 30 of the radical group's fighters were killed Thursday, an activist group said.

The airbase at Tabqa, some 40 km east of the city of Raqqa in northeast Syria, represents the government's last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) that has seized swaths of territory in the two countries.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which says it gathers material from all sides in the Syrian conflict, said the reinforcements had been flown in overnight.

It said no fewer than 30 ISIS fighters had been killed and dozens more wounded on Thursday by heavy bombardment and landmines in areas surrounding the base.

The city of Raqqa on the Euphrates river represents ISIS' stronghold in Syria. Boosted by weaponry seized in Iraq, the group has taken three Syrian military bases in the area in recent weeks.

The Syrian state news agency SANA Thursday denied reports that ISIS fighters had entered the air base. It also said government forces had taken a nearby village.

ISIS, which has been hit by U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, controls roughly a third of northern and eastern Syria.





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