DAMASCUS: The latest developments as Syrian troops and other nations battle militants in Syria. All times local in Syria.
Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has launched a surprise attack in the northern province of Aleppo, seizing a string of villages from rebels.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the advance by the extremists is the most significant in months.
It comes amid a wave of Russian airstrikes and a ground offensive by the Syrian army in the country’s central region.
The Observatory said IS seized the villages of Tal Qrah, Kfar Qares and at least four other small villages in the northern Aleppo countryside. IS-affiliated accounts on Twitter also announced the militants had seized those villages.
Iranian state television is reporting that a senior commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard has been killed in Syria.
The report Friday said that Gen. Hossein Hamedani was killed in the suburbs of Aleppo inSyria while “carrying out an advisory mission,” but didn’t provide any further details.
Hamedani is one of the most senior Guard commanders to be killed in Syria. He was a veteran commander who had an important role in Iran’s 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Iran is one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main allies. Tehran has provided his government with military and political backing for years and has kept up its support sinceSyria’s civil war began in 2011.
Guard commanders repeatedly have said Iran only has high-level advisers in Syria, denying it has fighters there.
Assad is from the Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Iran is majority Shiite. Syria’srebels are mostly Sunni
Turkey’s state-run news agency says Syrian journalist Salih Mahmud Leyla, who reported for the agency from northern Syria, has been killed in car bomb attack.
The Anadolu Agency said Friday that Leyla, 27, died in the attack in the town of Hreitan, in northern Aleppo province, late Thursday. It said the attack is believed to have been carried out by Islamic State militants.
Leyla sent photographs and videos from clashes in northern Syria and also reported on hardships suffered by the people there, Anadolu said.
In July, Leyla received injuries to his face while reporting on clashes in Aleppo and was brought to Turkey for treatment.
Leyla, who was from Aleppo, had trained as a computer technician. His wife of one year is expecting their first child, Anadolu said.
France’s defense minister says French fighter jets fired airstrikes on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, targeting foreign fighters plotting attacks in Europe.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Europe-1 radio Friday that two Rafale jets bombed a training camp “and the objective was achieved.” It was the second French strike on Syria, and Le Drian said “it will not be the last.”
He did not elaborate on the purported attack plots.
He criticized Russia’s stepped-up and wide-ranging military action in Syria, saying “80 to 90 percent” of its actions do not target the Islamic State group. Russia says its air campaign is aimed against Islamic militants.
France joined the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq last year and expanded its campaign to Syria last month.