Syrian soldiers patrol in the town of al-Qaryatain, in the province of Homs in central Syria, on April 4, 2016 after Syrian troops regained control of the town from ISIS the previous day. / AFP / JOSEPH EID
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The Syrian army and its allies launched a major attack on insurgents south of Aleppo, described as the fiercest government assault in the area since an agreement to ease the fighting came into effect in February.Nusra Front, which along with ISIS is not part of the cease-fire, last week attacked and captured a town in the area, killing dozens of Syrian soldiers and their allies, among them 11 members of the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah.Any offensive on Deir al-Zor or Raqqa, however, would probably need significantly more firepower than the Palmyra assault.In addition to the 11 Hezbollah fighters killed, 43 Syrian soldiers died in last week's Nusra attack, sources familiar with the details said.Iran's military support to Damascus has mostly been supplied by its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.In an apparent response to setbacks including the loss of Palmyra to government forces last month, ISIS launched attacks on government-held areas some 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Damascus overnight.Rebel factions backed by Turkey have also gained ground against the group near the Turkish border – an area where the Syrian army is also trying to make gains, and the U.S.-allied Syria Democratic Forces alliance is also planning an attack.
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