ISIS extremists on Thursday killed at least 18 regime fighters in an attack in central Syria, a war monitor said.
Pro-government fighters backed by Russian airstrikes were battling off the extremists on the outskirts of the desert town of Al-Sukhna in Homs province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The air raids and clashes killed 11 ISIS fighters, the Britain-based monitor said.
“The Russian aviation intervened to stop the jihadists from advancing and retaking the town,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Syrian regime forces recaptured Al-Sukhna from ISIS in 2017.
Thursday’s attack was the deadliest in the area since December, when ISIS fighters attacked an army garrison in a gas facility east of Homs city, killing four civilians and 13 troops or militiamen, Abdel Rahman said.
ISIS proclaimed a “caliphate” in parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014.
After years of various offensives against it, US-backed forces finally expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in eastern Syria a year ago.
But ISIS fighters still retain a presence in the vast Badia desert stretching across the country through Homs province and eastwards to the Iraqi border, and continue to carry out deadly attacks.