IS stages surprise attack on Syrian government-held village

Islamic State militants on Thursday attacked a village in eastern Syria recently captured by government forces, threatening to cut the main highway linking the capital, Damascus, with the city of Deir el-Zour, Syrian opposition activists said.

The attack on al-Shola village was one of the strongest staged by IS in the region recently, three weeks after Syrian troops broke a nearly three-year long siege of parts of Deir el-Zour, the capital of the oil-rich province that carries the same name.

It was also a surprise as IS militants have been squeezed in the province by Russian-backed Syrian troops and U.S.-backed members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said al-Shola was under attack on Thursday. Omar Abou Leila, of the monitoring group DeirEzzor 24, and the IS-linked Aamaq news agency said the extremists captured the village.

Abou Laila said IS fighters appear to have come from the town of Mayadeen, one of the largest remaining…

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