35 dead as Syria forces repel ISIS attack

2015-04-11 14:45

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Beirut - Pro-government forces repelled an attack on a key Syrian military airport by Islamic State group affiliated militants on Saturday, losing 20 fighters but killing almost as many jihadists, a monitor said.

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said: "Militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group attacked the outskirts of the Khalkhalah military airport in Sweida province."

The forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had been able to maintain control over the airport and its surrounding areas despite losing 20 fighters. At least 15 ISIS jihadists were killed.

Khalkhalah airport lies along a major highway that links the southern regime-held city of Sweida to Damascus.

Targeting such sects

"The area is important because it's Druze and borders Damascus province," said Abdel Rahman, referring to the minority sect that considers Sweida its stronghold.

Sweida province has largely avoided the bloodshed of Syria's war.

"The red lines that had been in place about attacking these areas have been broken," Abdel Rahman said.

The Assad regime claims to protect Syria's minorities against foreign-backed Islamists.

But attacks on minority communities have increased with the rise of ISIS, which regularly targets such sects in Syria, as well as Sunnis it accuses of violating its interpretation of Islam.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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