Reports surfaced Sunday of violent clashes around the Shaar gas field in central Syria where government forces are attempting to retake the area from jihadists.

There was also a report rebels infiltrated Abasiyeen Square in Damascas but the report could not be verified.



The Syrian newspaper Al-Watan quoted military sources as saying 60 soldiers were killed in the counteroffensive against the Islamic State, which has seized a swath of land in Syrian and Iraq and declared a Muslin caliphate.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported violent clashes around the gas field and reported 270 people were killed in fighting by Islamic militants.

"A large majority of the men killed were executed at gunpoint after being taken prisoner," observatory spokesman Rami Abdel Rahman said. He said the dead included 11 civilians. "The rest were security guards and National Defense Forces members."

Forty IS militants were reported killed in the counterattack, Agence France Presse reported.

"The fighting today is mostly hit-and-run attacks," Homs activist Beibares Tellawi told the Associated Press  via Skype. "Large numbers of (President Bashar) Assad's forces are attacking the field."

Militants took over the gas field, which is in the desert region of Palmyra in Homs province, Thursday.