Syrian forces take 3 more towns en route to Deir ez-Zor in first airborne operation – Russian MoD

Syrian armed forces have for the first time recaptured territory from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in an airborne landing operation, coordinated with their Russian counterparts, according to the Russian defense ministry.

MLRS multiple rocket launchers and Russian Ka-52 military helicopters, also known as “Alligators”, were used in the operation in the region of El-Kder, between the provinces of Homs and Raqqa. The operation was conducted under the direction of General Suheil al-Hassan, nicknamed “the Tiger” and one of the top commanders of the Syrian Arab Army.

"On the night of August 12, for the first time since the start of military operations against the IS terrorist group in Syria, government forces managed to organize and hold a masterly operation tactical landings in the rear of the militants followed the defeat and capture of the village of El-Kder [about 120 km West of the city of Deir ez-Zor]," read a statement from the Russian defense ministry, adding that “Russian military advisers took a direct role in the preparation and control of the operation.”

At first, Syrian rocket systems and Russian helicopters opened fire on IS positions, destroying a number of armoured vehicles used by the terrorists. Syrian government troops then landed near the settlements of Khirbet Mikman and El-Kder, moving along a dry river bed before securing a nearby hill and beginning the assault of the village.

"In a short battle, the Syrian commandos under the personal leadership of General Suheil al-Hassan destroyed the militants’ headquarters and depots, hit two tanks and three armored vehicles. The landing party kept the positions until reinforcements came to the area on the morning of August 12,” the Russian defense ministry said.

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As result of the operation, the Syrian army took control of an area of about 60 square kilometers, with three major populated areas and two oil fields.News of the El-Kder operation comes as the Syrian army announced its victory in Al-Sukhnah, liberated from the Islamic State Sunday. Al-Sukhnah was the last major city controlled by the militant group in the province of Homs and with its capture, the path to the besieged enclave of Deir ez-Zor, which has been under attack by IS since May 2015.

“Just after Al-Sukhnah fell, many ISIS and terrorist pockets in eastern Homs surrendered or are in the process of surrendering,” Syrian writer Abdo Haddad told RT.

Haddad noted that terrorist fighters are now surrounded by Syrian forces backed by Russian planes, and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supported by the US military. At the same time, the author said both sides are eager to be the first to liberate Deir ez-Zor from a three-year-old terrorist siege.

“Al-Sukhnah is in the intersection of eastern Homs, Raqqa and most importantly Deir ez-Zor. It contained big warehouse of weaponry and it was used as a backup route for military elements… The routes are now open for Deir ez-Zor.”