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Syria Retakes Homs Gas Field from Hardline Group

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A Civil Defense member looks for survivors at a site hit by what activists said were two barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, July 27, 2014.

A Civil Defense member looks for survivors at a site hit by what activists said were two barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, July 27, 2014.

Syrian army said on Sunday it recaptured a gas field east of the central city of Homs that was seized by hardline Islamic State fighters earlier this month.

Syrian television showed footage of soldiers running and deploying in a vast desert area which it said was the Sha'ar gas field.

The army said in a statement it retook the field after a “precise operation in which dozens of terrorists were killed.”

However, a source from the Islamic State said the fighters pulled out after destroying the field's equipment and capturing at least 15 tanks and dozens of rockets which were used to guard the field.

“We pulled out because it was no longer good for us to stay. The goal was to get the tanks and rockets present at the field and we did,” he said. “There is no point in staying there and become an easy target for the regime and its warplanes.”

Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, has advanced in Syria and taken over swaths of territory in neighboring Iraq in what it has described as a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.

At least 1,100 soldiers and pro-Assad fighters have been killed since the Islamic State intensified its attacks against government forces this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

During the assault on the field, the Islamic State fighters killed at least 270 soldiers, guards and staff and also killed at least 85 soldiers when they captured an army base in the province of Raqaa on Friday, the Observatory said.

The fighters said they decapitated most of the soldiers and hung several heads outside the base gates.

Elsewhere, Syria and a human rights monitoring group also said that seven people were killed Sunday in a car bomb in the central city of Homs.

The state news agency SANA said the vehicle targeted the Arman neighborhood, home to mostly minority Christians and Alawites, the sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arman neighborhood has been repeatedly hit by car bombs during more than three years of fighting in Syria that have killed more than 170,000 people and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.

Insurgents are trying to oust the Syrian leader, but the warfare has turned chaotic with sectarian overtones, as rebel groups fight each other for control of regional sectors in the country.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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