Syrian regime forces, with Russian support, kicked off a wide operation in the vast Badia (desert) in retaliation to the rising number of attacks launched by ISIS remnants in the area.
The latest attack took place in Deir Ezzor on Wednesday when ISIS ambushed a bus carrying soldiers and pro-government militias who had finished their leave and were on their way back to their base in the desolate, sparsely populated area.
Some 40 soldiers, mostly from the army’s Fourth Brigade, were killed and six others were badly wounded.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the regime, backed by the National Defense Forces and Palestinian Jerusalem Brigade militias, launched its campaign on Friday with Russian air cover.
Russian aircraft carried out dozens of strikes against ISIS positions in the region that stretches from Hama, Aleppo and al-Raqqa.
The Observatory revealed that ISIS had killed 819 regime members and allied militants throughout 2020, in ambushes, attacks and fighting. The terror group lost 507 members in these clashes and in Russian and regime air raids.