The Islamic State group killed 12 US-backed fighters in a surprise attack Sunday from the jihadists’ holdout in eastern Syria on the Iraqi border, a Britain-based monitor said, AFP reports.
Twelve fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing and subsequent clashes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
An SDF spokesman, however, denied any members of his Kurdish-led alliance had been killed.
“There are counter-attacks every day and the clashes are ongoing, but the talk of martyrs among our ranks is not true,” Mustefa Bali said.
The attack allowed IS to advance towards Al-Bahra from its holdout around Hajin, and push back the first lines of defence of the SDF, which is backed by the US-led coalition, the Observatory said.
The SDF, with the support of coalition air strikes, in September launched an offensive to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket including Hajin from IS, making slow advances.
Last Wednesday, the SDF suspended its fight against the jihadists after Turkish forces fired on the group’s positions in northern Syria.
The coalition estimates that 2,000 IS fighters remain in the Hajin pocket.