IS makes gains in Syria's Raqa

New deployments reportedly could include help from the RAF to chase down senior Taliban and Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan

New deployments reportedly could include help from the RAF to chase down senior Taliban and Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan

At least 34 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters have been killed in an Islamic State counterattack in the east of Raqa province, rolling back regime gains, a monitor said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom -based monitoring group that uses an extensive network of sources on the ground in Syria and is opposed to the Assad regime, said Thursday that Syrian military forces joined up from the north and south of the Badiya desert area overnight.

While the USA -led coalition is supporting an Arab-Kurdish coalition to recapture the eastern city of Raqqa, the Syrian regime has focused on recapturing other stretches of territory from ISIS, advancing on the eastern province of Deir Ezzor where ISIS still controls the cities of Deir Ezzor and Mayadin.

Victory for the Syrian government in this region would boost Damascus and Moscow's hope of recapturing Deir Ezzor from ISIS, one of the last bastions of the group in the country.

But in Thursday's counterattack, Daesh "made major progress and. expanded the area under its control along the southern bank of the Euphrates", the observatory said.

"IS has managed to push regime forces back 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the western outskirts of Madan", Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The Syria army operation in the area, backed by air support from ally Russian Federation, is separate from the battle for provincial capital Raqqa city.

"We, the seven battalions of Baggara and Shaitat tribes, split from the Elite Forces and joined the Deir ez-Zor military council and consider the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] as our reference and military leadership and we are working under its banner to liberate our city from the Daesh [ISIS] terrorist abomination", the groups said.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

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