DAMASCUS, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic State (IS) militants are using three methods to confront the attacks carried out by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, a war monitor reported on Saturday.
The IS militants in its last pocket in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour are using tunnels to move underground between positions and frontline to avert being targeted, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The militants are also relying on counter-attacks against the SDF, which has recently started a broad offensive backed by the U.S.-led coalition against the IS pockets on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
The third method, the observatory continued, is depending on an extensive network of mines planted around the IS-held areas to prevent the SDF from storming in.
The Britain-based watchdog group said that 38 SDF fighters and 57 IS militants were killed since the battle against the IS-held pocket started on Sept. 10.
It said the SDF militias are advancing in the fight against IS in the al-Baghous area near the Syrian-Iraqi border in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour.
The SDF forces are also advancing in the town of Hajin, another area in the IS-held pocket near the desert region of Deir al-Zour.
The battles are coupled with intensive airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition on the IS-held areas, according to the observatory.
Recent reports said the IS control over Syrian territory has shrunk to one percent after it captured almost half of the country a couple of years ago.
The Syrian army stripped IS of large swathes of areas in Deir al-Zour, including the provincial capital, while the SDF is attempting to consolidate positions in the northern and northeastern countryside of Deir al-Zour.