Regime drives back IS attack on strategic east Homs villages

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Syrian army and National Defense Forces (shabiha) fended off an Islamic State attack on three villages in the eastern Homs countryside that are home to shabiha training camps and a military headquarters coordinating activity against nearby IS targets, a local citizen journalist told Syria Direct Thursday. “The village of al-Masaudiya [one of the three targeted] is also the birthplace of Buthaina Shabaan, advisor to Bashar al-Assad,” said Mohammed Khalaf, who is on the ground in rural east Homs. IS launched mortars at two of the villages, resulting in five civilian casualties, reported pro-regime Damascus News Network. “The IS attack was extremely strong, with large numbers of fighters who entered from three fronts,” said Khalaf. The villages are located northwest of Palmyra city, which IS captured in May, and approximately 50km east of Homs city.