May 13, 2015 / 9:40 PM / in 3 years

Seventy Syrian troops killed, 40 militants killed in fighting: monitor

AMMAN (Reuters) - Islamic State fighters killed at least 70 government troops in a major assault by the militant group on Syrian army-held areas in the central Syrian province of Homs, and at least 40 militants also were slain, a human rights monitor said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence across the country, had earlier said 30 government fighters and 20 militants died in the fierce fighting in eastern areas of Homs province following an Islamic State assault on government forces.

Islamic State said in a statement that it had seized al Sukhna, a town some 300 km (190 miles) northeast of Damascus, in a move that gives it control over a strategic highway linking the province of Homs with Deir al-Zor province in northeastern Syria.

The hard-line fundamentalist group also claimed it had shot down a Syrian MiG jet plane in the area. The army has not commented on the developments in al-Sukhna but said it had killed scores of militants in heavy bombing of their positions in Homs and the city of Tadmr.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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