But the town’s Christian population has dropped to only several hundred.
ISIS made their biggest move since their capture of Palmyra.
Fighters affiliated with the Islamic State group captured a key city in central Syria Wednesday night time after fierce preventing with authorities troops, a monitor stated Thursday.
IS militants seized control of Al-Qaryatain town in the southeastern countryside of Homs following two days of heavy clashes with Syrian army forces.
The militants launched the attack with suicide bombings at the town’s checkpoints, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group. Its capture allows IS to link up areas under its control in and around Palmyra with areas in the eastern countryside of Qalamoun in Damascus province.
The IS group had suffered a string of military setbacks after capturing Palmyra.
Last February, the hardline jihadists abducted at least 250 Assyrian Christians, many of whom were children and women, during raids on villages in northeastern Syria, in a mass abduction coinciding with an offensive in the same region by Kurdish forces backed by US led air strikes.
More than 230,000 Syrians have died in the civil war, which began after anti-government protests in March 2011. In addition, the rebel groups that were initially fighting al-Asaad’s forces have recently turned against each other in an increasingly brutal manner. No further details have been given by the Pentagon regarding the attack, which was launched on Monday.