Damascus, May 13 (IANS/AKI) Islamic State (IS) fighters killed 30 government soldiers as the Sunni radical group advanced in the army-held province of Homs in central Syria, a monitoring group reported on Wednesday.

Some 30 soldiers and 20 IS militants were killed in overnight clashes in and around the town of Al Sukhna, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory on Human Rights said.

IS militants took advantage of a deployment of army troops to northwest Idlib province where rebels have seized the provincial capital and the nearby town of Jisr al-Shughour, according to local activists.

IS is most firmly entrenched in northern and eastern Syria but has in recent months attacked Syrian government-held and rebel-held areas in other parts of the country and has been pushing westward in Homs.

The group already has a presence in the countryside in eastern Homs.