Islamic State wins ground from Syrian government in east: monitor

Abdul-Rahman Kassig works as a medic to help a wounded man as he provided medical aid and first-aid training to those involved in the Syrian conflict in his work with Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA) in this handout photo courtesy of
Abdul-Rahman Kassig works as a medic to help a wounded man as he provided medical aid and first-aid training to those involved in the Syrian conflict in his work with Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA) in this handout photo courtesy of the Kassig family, near Deir Ezzor, Syria in Aug 2013. Islamic State won territory from Syrian government forces in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on Tuesday, its first gain there in about two months, a group that tracks the civil war reported. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Islamic State won territory from Syrian government forces in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on Tuesday, its first gain there in about two months, a group that tracks the civil war reported.

Fighters from both sides were killed during the clashes in Deir Ezzor city, about 450 km northeast of Damascus in a province bordering Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said without giving a death toll.

Islamic State, which is being targeted by US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria, seized large areas of Deir Ezzor's industrial region, meaning it now controls more than half the city, said Mr Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the British-based Observatory.

The Islamist militant group, which is also battling Kurdish forces for control of the town of Kobane at the Turkish border, brought reinforcements to Deir Ezzor in recent days, Mr Abdulrahman said.

The US air force dropped arms to Kurds defending Kobane, also known as Ayn al-Arab, on Monday. Washington has ruled out such cooperation with the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.