Moderate Syrian rebels launched a counter-attack on Islamic State-linked militants after a series of Islamic State advances in south-western Syria, near the Golan Heights, a monitoring group said Tuesday.
Fighting is continuing between the rebels and the jihadist Khalid bin al-Walid Army at the western outskirts of the Syrian province of Daraa, the Britain-based Syrian Obsevatroy for Human Rights said.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory, said the rebels' counter-attack at dawn managed to drive out the jihadists from at least two villages, Jileen and parts of Heet.
The "Khalid bin al-Walid Army managed in their surprise attack on Monday to control a hill called Tel al-Jamoua, which is strategic because it overlooks Nawa, the largest village in the western countryside of Daraa province," Abdel Rahman told dpa.
Abdel Rahman said the Islamic State-linked group managed to expand their control in the Daraa countryside, adding that the jihadists also overran the towns of Tseel, Sahem al-Golan and Adwan.
The battles left nine fighters from the Khalid bin al-Walid Army dead. Eighteen rebels, some of whom were executed by the jihadists, also died, according to the monitoring group.
The Khalid bin al-Walid Army, which includes radical factions, was set up in May and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. It currently controls territories south-east of the Golan Heights.
Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967.