Syria troops kill over 50 jihadists near Lebanon
Syrian troops backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah killed at least 50 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Qaeda-affiliate Al-Nusra Front late Friday, activists said on Saturday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamists clashed Friday night and into Saturday morning with troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allied forces in the Qalamoun region near the Lebanese border.
The Qalamoun clashes killed at least seven pro-regime fighters and members of Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, The Britain-based Observatory and Turkey-based activist Mustafa Osso said tribesmen forced ISIS fighters to withdraw from some villages in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour.
The clashes forced the extremist group to call for reinforcements from neighboring Iraq, AFP reported on Saturday.
The Al-Qaeda breakaway ISIS group seized large swaths of western and northern Iraq in June. It has declared a self-styled caliphate in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, imposing harsh Islamic laws on the areas’ residents.
The death of an ’emir’
A local chief of the Al-Nusra Front was killed late Friday after a bomb exploded in his car, the Observatory said.
“Nusra’s emir in Idlib [province], Yaacub al-Omar, was killed overnight when a bomb went off in his car near his house in the Khan al-Subul area,” the observatory said, according to AFP.
Two of his sons were wounded in the blast, the group added.
Omar took over the post in April after his predecessor, Abu Mohammad al-Ansari, was killed by ISIS fighters.
While both jihadist groups are rooted in al-Qaeda, ISIS and al-Nusra Front have been conflict since early 2014.