Clashes between troops and IS intensify in central Syria

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An observer group says intense clashes are ongoing in the Syrian central province of Hama between pro-government forces and members of the Islamic State group.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in central Syria against IS for weeks under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting is concentrated in the Okeirbat area that government forces regained control of on Thursday.

The Observatory said Friday that more than two weeks of fighting left hundreds dead on both sides.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported the clashes saying IS positions are being targeted with artillery and rockets.

IS said in a statement posted online that it repelled a government attack near the village of Sheikh Hilal, claiming to have killed 11 soldiers.