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.
Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.