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World


IS pushes back US-backed Kurdish forces from key town in eastern Syria: watchdog

Damascus, Dec 8 (Xinhua) The Islamic State (IS) militants managed on Saturday to push back the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from a key town in eastern Syria after months-long battles, a war monitor reported.

With the bad weather conditions in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour Province in eastern Syria, IS militants launched a counter-attack against the SDF in the town of Hajin, capturing much of the town from the Kurdish-led forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The IS counter-attack killed 56 IS militants and 44 SDF fighters, the watchdog said.

Over the past two days, the SDF, backed by the U.S.-led airstrikes, had already captured 70 percent of Hajin, the most important IS stronghold on the eastern bank of Euphrates River in eastern Deir al-Zour.

However, the intensity of mines planted by the IS made it difficult for the SDF to hold their positions in the town despite the heavy shelling and airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, according to the London-based watchdog.

A day earlier, state news agency SANA said the intense U.S.-led airstrikes destroyed the only hospital in Hajin and killed eight civilians.

The U.S.-led coalition has been targeting the last vestige of IS territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour as part of the support to the Kurdish-led SDF militia.

The SDF, with the backing of U.S.-led airstrikes, launched a campaign to defeat the IS on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River since Sept. 10.

A total of 849 IS militants and 508 SDF fighters have since been killed, according to a report released by the Observatory on Saturday.
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