Beirut, Jun 13: An Islamic State group counter-attack on Syrian regime forces advancing towards a jihadist stronghold today left 28 combatants dead, a monitor said. Dozens of IS fighters early today attacked government positions south of the town of Tabqa, an IS stronghold on the Euphrates River, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said fierce clashes broke out, but that regime forces were able to maintain their positions and were still 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the IS-held Tabqa airport.(Also Read: Orlando Mass Shooting: ISIS claims responsiblity for US nightclub attack)Also Read - Jammu And Kashmir: NIA Raids 16 Locations in 'ISIS-Voice of Hind', Bathindi IED Recovery Cases

“Eleven regime fighters and 17 Daesh fighters were killed in the attack,” said Abdel Rahman, using the Arabic acronym for IS. Earlier this month, government fighters backed by Russian air power began pushing north towards Tabqa, held by IS since 2014. The town lies some 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the jihadist group’s Syrian de facto capital of Raqa city, and recapturing it would sever the supply road from the west. Last week, IS fighters had sent reinforcements of fighters and weapons into Tabqa in anticipation of a fierce battle to defend the town. Also Read - Kabul Airport Blasts: Pak's ISIS Face Mawalawi Farooqi May be Behind Attacks | All You Need to Know

Abdel Rahman said a total of 37 government fighters and 101 IS militants have been killed since the regime launched its offensive for Tabqa. The war in Syria — which began with the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations in 2011 — has killed more than 280,000 people and displaced millions. It has evolved into a brutal, complex civil war among the government, rebels, jihadists, and Kurds, each carving out zones of control. Also Read - This Cafe in Syria's Damascus is Run by 20 Adults With Down Syndrome | See Pics