BEIRUT/Oslo - The Syrian army on Wednesday recaptured two key gas fields and a gas company in central Homs province, less than a week after their seizure by militants, a monitoring group said.

"Regime forces and pro-regime militia retook control of the Jhar and Mahr gas fields, as well as the Hayyan gas company in the east of Homs province," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The facilities had fallen into the hands of the Islamic State (IS) militant group late last week. "Jhar and Hayyan are particularly important because they feed Homs city and Damascus the gas supplies needed to produce electricity," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. The facilities are near the Shaer gas field, parts of which are still under IS control after a deadly attack late last month, though the army is advancing in its bid to recapture it fully, said Abdel Rahman. "The army's advances come amid fierce fighting and heavy regime air raids against IS positions. These gas facilities are simply too important for the regime to let go," he told AFP. State news agency SANA also reported the advance. "The army is advancing in Shaer... and has killed many terrorists," said SANA. IS has targeted oil and gas facilities in Iraq and Syria as it seeks funds for its fight to seize territory for a self-proclaimed Islamic "caliphate".

Shelling of a rebel-held area in the northeast of the Syrian capital killed 11 children on Wednesday, a monitoring group said, with activists saying a school had been hit. "Eleven children were killed in shelling of the part of Qabun district that is out of government control," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of the killings, which they described as a "massacre of children". The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists across the war-torn country, said the shelling hit a school, and an activist group in the neighbourhood shared a grisly video of the aftermath.

Meanwhile, the head of Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, has threatened neighbouring Lebanon in a new audio message warning that the "real battle" in the country has yet to begin. In the audio message distributed online on Tuesday night, Abu Mohamed al-Jolani warned that Hezbollah would regret its intervention in the Syrian conflict in support of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Moreover,  Norway's intelligence service said Wednesday it expects an attack on the country within a year due to the growing threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) group. "Within the coming 12 months, it is likely that Norway will be threatened by terrorist attacks or exposed to attempted strikes," the police intelligence service, known as PST, said in an updated threat assessment.

PST director Benedicte Bjoernland told broadcaster TV2 her service had "no information on any specific plan to attack a target in Norway today."

"But we have detected an unfortunate trend," she said, referring to recent attacks perpetrated or thwarted in Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.