U.S.-backed Fighters in Syria Brave Sandstorm in Deadly Battle With ISIS Fighters

Observers believe at least 10 U.S.-allied fighters and 18 ISIS militants were killed in the ongoing fighting

As ISIS shrinks in Syria and Iraq, it's looking to compensate by cultivating support among Palestinians, expanding from its base in Egypt's Sinai. Graffiti depicting the ISIS flag in Ma'an, Jordan. Oct. 28, 2014
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

U.S.-backed fighters braved a sandstorm to battle the Islamic State group in eastern Syria on Thursday in heavy clashes that killed several fighters on both sides.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group, said it was fighting to retake the village of Sousah, where the extremists took advantage of the poor visibility to launch a counteroffensive.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting began Wednesday and killed at least 10 U.S.-allied fighters, with the fate of 35 others unknown. It said 18 ISIS militants were killed.

The ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency reported 18 deaths among the SDF fighters and posted photos online of what it said were some of the bodies.

In recent years the SDF, with U.S. air support, has driven ISIS from much of northern and eastern Syria. The extremists have also suffered a series of defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces and Iraqi forces, losing virtually all the territory that once made up their self-styled caliphate.

U.S.-led airstrikes numbered included up to 70 announced strikes from October 1 to October 6.

Sousah is in one of the last pockets of territory held by ISIS, which has put up stiff resistance. The advancing SDF has had to contend with mines, sniper fire and suicide attacks.