20 soldiers killed in IS attack on Syrian hospital

Beirut, May 14

The Islamic State jihadist group today overran a government-controlled hospital in eastern Syria, killing 20 members of pro-regime forces and taking medical staff hostage, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists attacked Al-Assad hospital in Deir Ezzor as they press an advance to control the oil-rich city and its vital airbase.

The attack sparked clashes with regime forces providing security for the hospital in which six jihadists were killed, the monitor said.

“IS attacked Al-Assad hospital at the city’s western entrance, killing at least 20 soldiers and allied fighters,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The jihadists “seized the hospital and captured the medical staff, holding them hostage”, he said, adding that the fighting was still raging.

The jihadist group controls about 60 per cent of Deir Ezzor, including the centre and the north of the city. It has imposed a siege on government-held districts in the south and the east where about 200,000 civilians have been trapped since March 2014.

The jihadists have repeatedly attacked the government enclave and seized several neighbourhoods.