by WorldTribune Staff, September 10, 2017
U.S.-backed fighters made major gains in an eastern Syria province, clearing Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists from areas east of the Euphrates River, a monitoring group reported.
Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Deir Ezzor Military Council (DEMC) on Sept. 10 seized much of Deir Ezzor province’s northeast, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“They seized control of a hilltop seven kilometers (four miles) from the eastern banks of the Euphrates, across the river from Deir Ezzor city,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Observatory.
Oil-rich Deir Ezzor province borders Iraq.
Rahman attributed the quick gains against ISIS to the fact that “eastern parts of Deir Ezzor are desert and not densely populated.”
The U.S.-led coalition, the SDF, Syria’s government and Russia have agreed on a “de-confliction line” in northeastern Syria to prevent the two assaults from clashing.
Syrian regime forces on Sept. 10 were locked in clashes with ISIS southwest of the Deir Ezzor as they prepared a push into neighborhoods still held by the jihadists, the Observatory said.
According to the War Media channel operated by Hizbullah, Syrian troops seized full control of the 450-kilometer (280-mile) road linking Deir Ezzor to Damascus. ISIS had held the road for four years.
“The Syrian army and its allies now control the entire international highway between Deir Ezzor and Damascus, through the cities of Al-Sukhna and Palmyra,” War Media said, referring to other central Syrian cities recaptured from ISIS.
ISIS has held about 60 percent of Deir Ezzor and much of the surrounding oil-rich province since 2014.