A Syrian flag next to an ISIS symbol in Palmyra, which government troops captured from the militant group last week.Omar Sanadiki / Reuters

Syrian state TV says more than 300 workers from al-Badia Cement Company were abducted, while Agence France-Presse put the figure at 250.

Here’s AFP on the significance of the fighting outside Damascus:

Dumeir is divided between IS control in the east and rebel control in the west, but several key positions around it, including a military airport and a power plant, are still in government hands. ...

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the fighting was heavy but the jihadists had not managed to gain significant ground. ... IS had seized five regime positions in the area, including two checkpoints, since Monday…

ISIS’s offensive against government positions east of Damascus began this week after a series of setbacks suffered by the militant group. Although ISIS has shown an ability to strike at the heart of Europe, and has inspired people to carry out attacks in the U.S., the group has, in fact, lost much of the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq (though it has made inroads in Libya). Wednesday’s attacks outside Damascus—and the abduction of the workers—may be an indication ISIS is trying to reverse those losses.

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