Five pro-Iran forces killed in IS attack in eastern Syria

Five Syrian militia members have been killed by IS fighters amid increasing activity by the jihadist group in regime-held areas.

Five members of militias loyal to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were killed in an attack by the Islamic State group (IS) in the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor on Sunday.

The deadly attack was the result of an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a military vehicle near the Haribsha checkpoint on the Deir ez-Zor-al-Sukhna road, according to a report by The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The report said that the IS attack coincided with Syrian regime forces and their allied militias bringing in new military reinforcements, which were distributed to various military sites and oil facilities in Deir ez-Zor and Homs provinces.

Also on Sunday, IS cells armed with light weapons and riding motorcycles attacked a checkpoint of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the town of Dhiban in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, with no fatalities reported.

IS was territorially defeated in Syria in 2019, but its cells have remained active in the Syrian desert. The jihadist group’s increasing activity has prompted fear that the group could be strengthening in Assad regime-held and SDF-controlled areas.

On 21 May, a Syrian regime officer and members of its affiliated militias were killed in two IS attacks on a checkpoint and a military vehicle in the eastern countryside of Homs, central Syria.

Last week, 15 members of the Iran-backed Al-Quds Brigade were killed in multiple attacks by groups affiliated with IS. The attacks included sophisticated ambushes and assaults on military points in deserts near the towns of al-Sukhna and Palmyra in the eastern countryside of Homs.

These attacks came after a recent campaign by regime forces, led by the National Defence Forces militia, with Russian air support, to comb the deserts of Palmyra and al-Sukhna and the Raqqa-Homs Road.

The rise of IS in these areas challenges the Assad regime’s contention that it has reimposed order on areas formerly controlled by the group.

A report from the Counter Extremism Project counted at least 69 confirmed attacks by IS in Syria in April alone.

The attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 84 Syrian regime soldiers and fighters and 44 civilians, and more than doubled the total number of confirmed IS operations for all of 2024.

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