DAMASCUS, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- As many as 140 fighters of the so- called Islamic State (IS) were killed on Thursday in an ambush by the Syrian army in the vicinity of the al-Tabaqqa airbase in northern al-Raqqa province, the pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV reported.
The Syrian army killed the 140 IS fighters which has unleashed an attack since the beginning of this week to strip the government troops of the al-Tabaqa airbase, the last stronghold of the government troops in al-Raqqa.
Clashes have raged over the past 24 hours as the IS fighters staged a twin suicide car bombings in the vicinity of the airbase before dawn on Thursday in a bid to storm the facility, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Observatory said the Syria air force backed up the soldiers in the airbase with about 15 airstrikes, adding that seven soldiers were killed in the latest flare of clashes.
The clashes came just weeks after the IS captured two key military positions in al-Raqqa, namely the Brigade 93 and Division 17.
The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has recently claimed to have established an " Islamic Caliphate" in parts of Syria and Iraq, threatening the stability of the region.
The militant group, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said their goal is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria to fight the Shiite-led Iraqi central government and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose top ranks are from the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.