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Monitor says dozens of US-backed fighters killed in IS offensive

A U.S. Army Soldier, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, waits while a CH-47 Chinook is refueled at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, May 29, 2017. (Cpl. Rachel Diehm/U.S. Army)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Syrian rights monitor group says at least 68 members of a U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led force have been killed in a major assault by Islamic State (IS) militants in the east of the country.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on October 28 said some 100 other fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had been injured and warned that the death toll was likely to rise.

The independent British-based observatory said it had learned that IS attacked with 200 fighters, including women snipers and children, to retake the villages of Souseh and Baguth east of the Euphrates River.

The monitor group said it was able to document the deaths of more than 24 IS fighters on October 27, bringing the total to 234 since October 26.

It added that 188 SDF fighters have been killed in the past two days.

The monitoring group said the militants had launched their assault as bad weather in the region had grounded warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition, preventing it from providing assistance.

IS fighters captured large amounts of territory from government forces in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and were blamed for savage human rights violations in the land they controlled.

They have mostly been driven out of these territories by U.S.-backed fighters in both countries, but they continue to hold out in pockets of eastern and southern Syria.