Dozens of Syrian soldiers and rebels killed as opposition advances on Deir Ezzor
BEIRUT // Dozens of Syrian soldiers and rebels have been killed in three days of fighting in Deir Ezzor, the largest city in eastern Syria, where opposition fighters have made advances, an NGO said yesterday.
At least 33 fighters of the Al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and Al Nusra Front have been killed since Saturday, according to the Syria Observatory for Human Rights.
The group, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground, said 25 regime soldiers were also killed in the clashes.
"The clashes are very intense, the fighters are using several tanks they have, while the army is shelling pockets" of militant rebels, observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The militant fighters are concentrating their efforts on the district of Huweika, home to several government buildings and security headquarters.
Syria's state news agency Sana said yesterday that the army had "killed terrorists in the Senaa neighbourhood and other terrorists were killed when a car they rigged with explosives detonated".
Militant fighters seized the local headquarters of the ruling Baath party in Deir Ezzor, prompting regime shelling.
"The rebels have advanced in various districts, but without taking anything completely," said Mr Abdel Rahman.
Control of the city remains divided between rebels, most of them militant fighters, and the regime. But the front line is in flux, according to the UK-based observatory.
Despite setbacks around the capital Damascus and in Homs province of central Syria, rebel fighters have made advances in Deir Ezzor and the coastal province of Latakia, where Gen. Salim Idris, the military commander of Syria's main western-backed opposition group, visited rebels, his spokeswoman said yesterday.
* With additional reporting by Associated Press