‘Moment of triumph': Deir ez-Zor governor speaks about his city's liberation from ISIS (VIDEO)
To break the siege, Syrian land forces backed by Russia forces from the air, approached the city from several directions, including from Palmyra and from Raqqa, with some of the troops having arrived through the desert, Deir ez-Zor Governor Muhammed Ibrahim Samra told RT's Ruptly agency.
Their arrival was not unexpected, he said, adding that all of the people of Deir ez-Zor, including soldiers and civilians, "the elderly and the young," had been "waiting for this moment" and welcomed the friendly forces "in high morale."
"When [the troops] met on September 5, the excitement was at its peak, and victory was achieved," Samra said.
However, before that the liberators had to face "fierce clashes" with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, who fought off the approach of the Syrian Army and its allies. The jihadists occupied a gas factory, the governor said, and also planted explosives on the roads leading to Deir ez-Zor.
But the troops finally met with a local regiment that was defending the city surrounded by the terrorists, and "lifted the cordon."
"It was the moment of triumph," the governor told Ruptly.
During the IS siege that began in 2014, "the city was suffering in darkness," he said, explaining that there was "no electricity, no diesel and no gas."
"There was a shortage of health care staff too, and very few surgeons" in the city, the official added.
Following the liberation of the city, the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria has urgently sent humanitarian aid to the area. Among the supplies the Russian Defense Ministry is to deliver are food aid and living essentials, including water purification stations, portable diesel generators, medicine and bottled water. Medical aid teams will also shortly visit citizens of the recaptured city.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Army has been preparing humanitarian aid routes into Deir ez-Zor, clearing them off IS-planted mines.
The troops have already opened a "gap" which is 4km (2.5 miles) long and up to 10 meters (33 feet) wide, a Syrian Army soldier involved in the operation has told Ruptly.
"We found two anti-tank mine fields in this gap planted by ISIS members. After a thorough inspection, we removed them to secure the road in front of the friendly forces and the convoy of humanitarian aid coming to us in Deir ez-Zor," he said.