Islamic State attacked Syrian army positions in Hama province on Monday, Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, hitting back after Syrian government forces launched an offensive against IS last week.
The Observatory said IS had severed the road linking the towns of Salamiya and Athriya further east, where the army last week said the new offensive was underway. The pro-Damascus al-Manar TV said the army had repelled the assault.
The Observatory reported on Saturday that the Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes, had advanced across the provincial boundary into Raqqa province, a stronghold for IS and the location of its capital, Raqqa city.
The Observatory and pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar said last week the government forces were targeting the IS-held town of Tabqa in Raqqa province.
A Syrian military source however said the army had advanced to the edge of Raqqa province, and not into it. The source said the army had captured a crossroads from which it could advance towards Raqqa or Deir al-Zor or eastern Aleppo.