The Russian military on Wednesday conducted multiple airstrikes against the strongholds of the Islamic State (IS) across the sprawling desert region in eastern Syria, a war monitor reported.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the airstrikes have targeted the locations of IS cells in the southern countryside of the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour in retaliation for the extremist group’s recent assaults on Syrian army forces and their allied fighters in the region.
However, the observatory report has provided no information on potential casualties among IS militants.
The Britain-based watchdog group said the IS militants launched a surprise attack using heavy and medium machine guns on Tuesday from deep within the Syrian desert on military positions held by pro-government fighters in the Kabbajb area south of Deir al-Zour.
The attack resulted in the death of two Syrian soldiers, prompting increased security alert and substantial military reinforcements sent by the Syrian army to the affected area, the observatory said.
It reported that in a separate attack on Tuesday, the IS ambushed and killed a Syrian military officer and a pro-government fighter in the desert of Athraya in the northern province of Raqqa.
Also on Tuesday, a military bus carrying Syrian soldiers was hit by an explosive device in the desert near the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province, killing nine people and wounding 13 others, the Syrian Defense Ministry said.
The ministry specified that the fatalities included eight soldiers and one civilian, and blamed the attack on “terrorists.”
In an earlier report, the observatory said the bus was targeted by IS militants, who killed 14 soldiers and wounded 19 others near the T-3 oil station in the desert region in the remote countryside of Homs, adding that the injured had been taken to the Tadmur Hospital in Palmyra.
The desert region has become a strategic battleground between the Syrian army, its allies, and IS militants. The extremist group, despite its territorial losses in Syria, has been utilizing the vast and rugged desert terrain as a base to stage unexpected attacks and destabilize the region.