Syrian forces push towards last ISIS stronghold in Deir ez-Zor province (VIDEO)
The RT crew embedded with the Syrian army witnessed a huge offensive against IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists on the outskirts of Tabiyah and Huweijit Saqar, both located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
In a matter of days, Syrian forces supported by Russian airpower have pushed ISIS fighters more than 15 kilometers to the east of Al-Mayadeen city which was liberated earlier this month.
As fighting on eastern front continues, battles on the southern front has also intensified, RT Arabic correspondent Wafa Shubruni reported. The Syrian command hopes to rout the last remaining ISIS stronghold in Deir ez-Zor Governorate in the city of Al-Bukamal, which lies near the border with Iraq.
“This is the direction towards Al-Bukamal. We’re advancing there with the help of Allah. Our troops almost reached Al-Ashara. Some 5-6 km remain,” one of the soldiers told RT. “All these settlements are small villages. [It is] a bit difficult [to fight] in this environment, because the area is open. And this weather does not help us much either.”
IS terrorists captured Al-Bukamal in 2014 and have remained there ever since. In June 2016, the now-dissolved US-backed New Syrian Army unsuccessfully tried to recapture the city but was defeated by the terrorist forces.
This time, though, the legitimate Syrian Army hopes to drive the terrorists out of the city, taking advantage of precision air strikes by the Russian Air Force. A Syrian military source confirmed to the Xinhua news agency that government troops were steadily fighting their way towards al-Bukamal.
In addition to scoring major victories in the vicinity of Al-Mayadeen, the Syrian Army is also making rapid progress in smashing terrorist resistance elsewhere in Deir ez-Zor, Sana reported.
On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu noted that IS now controls less than 5 percent of territory in Syria, pointing out that prior to Russia’s intervention in September 2015, terrorists controlled “more than 70 percent of Syrian territory.”
But as the battle against IS in Syria nears its inevitable finale, the race between legitimate government forces and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) umbrella group for control over the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor province has heated up.
On Sunday, the al-Omar oil field, Syria’s largest, was captured by SDF troops. As of Sunday, Syrian government forces were deployed roughly 3 km away from the field according to reports.
The capture of the oil field that is located near Al-Mayadeen came two days after the SDF declared victory in Raqqa, leaving the remaining residents of the former de facto capital of the self-declared terrorist caliphate in a “dire humanitarian situation.”
As Kurdish and Arab troops fighting under the umbrella of the SDF continue their battle against IS terrorists in Deir ez-Zor province bordering Iraq, sporadic clashes are also reportedly taking place between the US-backed SDF and Syrian government forces. On Tuesday, the SDF said on its website that it engaged Syrian troops in Jubaila, located 8 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor city.
While Damascus considers any foreign troop presence on its territory without its direct consent illegal, the government has nevertheless expressed hope that it can initiate direct dialogue with the local Kurdish population to once again unite the country after the war with terrorists is over.