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3 Nov, 2017 09:14

Major terrorist stronghold Deir ez-Zor liberated from ISIS – Syrian state media

The Syrian army says it has liberated the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, the terrorists’ last stronghold on the west bank of the Euphrates River, from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), SANA news agency reported.

“Units of the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with the allied and supporting forces, have accomplished the mission of fully liberating Deir ez-Zor city from [the] ISIS terrorist organization,” a military source said on Friday, as cited by the state news agency.

Large numbers of IS fighters, including the group’s leaders, were killed. Their weapons and equipment were also destroyed, the source added. The terrorists’ munitions depots in the city were reportedly seized. The army’s de-mining experts are currently clearing landmines, bombs and other explosive devices left behind by IS terrorists in the area.

The siege of the Syrian provincial capital of Deir ez-Zor was ended in September by the Syrian army with the support of Russian airstrikes. After the siege of the Deir ez-Zor province was broken in early September, the Syrian army and Russian Air Force faced fierce resistance from terrorists in the surrounding neighborhoods of the city. “Every day there is combat,” Ibrahim, a Syrian army officer, told RT's Murad Gazdiev, who visited the embattled area at the time.

Residents of Deir ez-Zor, who endured years of horror during the IS blockade, told RT that a lack of basic supplies and the unending shelling turned their lives into a constant nightmare. “We walked the roads in fear, expecting any moment that a shell might hit us and we would die,” one young woman recalled. “We thought only about death. There was no food, no medicine, no electricity and no water. We’ve been dead already.”

The Deir ez-Zor governorate is located in the western part of Syria, on the border with Iraq, and used to be one of the key pockets of territory that remained under the control of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Terrorists had been blockading the city for nearly three years.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the area controlled by Islamic State in Syria has been reduced to less than 5 percent. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said late last month that prior to the Russian Air Force operation, IS controlled “more than 70 percent of Syrian territory.”

By the end of 2017, the Syrian government is likely to regain control of its eastern border, the head of Russia’s lower house Committee for Defense, Vladimir Shamanov, said on Monday. Islamic State will then “cease to exist,” he predicted.