Beirut (dpa) - Islamic State has seized a strategic town in central Syria from President Bashar al-Assad's troops, a monitoring group said Thursday, while dozens of fighters from the extremist militia were killed in US-led airstrikes in the east and north-east.
The hardline jihadists overran the town of al-Qaryatain south-west of the historic city of Palmyra, which has been under the control of Islamic State since May.
"This is a major gain for Islamic State," said Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, on the taking of al-Qaryatain.
Al-Qaryatain is located along a road linking Palmyra with areas under Islamic State's control in the eastern countryside of the region of Qalamoun on the edge of the capital Damascus, he told dpa.
The capture of al-Qaryatain will allow Islamic State to transfer fighters and weapons between the two areas, according to Abdel-Rahman.
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