Syrian army fully controls main road to Deir al-Zour

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/9/11 1:50:19

The Syrian army on Sunday has become in full control over the main road to Deir al-Zour city in eastern Syria, after stripping the Islamic State (IS) of key areas along the road, a military source told Xinhua.

The entire road from the capital Damascus to Deir al-Zour city has become under the government control, the source said on condition of anonymity.

He added that the road had been cut off for four years.

This achievement was completed after the army took several key cities from IS on the road between the capital and Deir al-Zour city.

It started with capturing the ancient city Palmyra all the way to the key city of Sukhnah in the remote desert area in the eastern countryside of Homs province until the towns of Kabajeb and Sholah in the southern countryside of Deir al-Zour before reaching the capital city itself.

A day earlier, the Syrian army captured the key energy field of Teym, which was almost the last point on the desert road before reaching the Panorama area at the southern entrance of Deir al-Zour.

The army units are now combing the road to clear it from explosives left by IS, the source said.

This comes as another military unit with the help of allied fighters succeeded last week to break the three-year-long siege of IS on Deir al-Zour city.

This unit stormed the siege from the western entrance of the city, marching from the southern countryside of Raqqa province until reaching the besieged Brigade 137 west of Deir al-Zour.

When the siege was lifted off the base, an adjoining enclave of government loyalists was free, where 93,000 civilians have been besieged for three years.

The primary unit kept advancing until breaking the IS siege on the air base of Deir al-Zour on Saturday.

The source told Xinhua that a number of ambulances reached the air base to evacuate the wounded soldiers, who had been hit when IS was besieging the facility.

With the advent of the troops coming from the south, which cleared the main road into the city, the IS situation is getting tough.

A day earlier, a military source told Xinhua that 90 percent of IS' supply routes to Deir al-Zour capital city had been cut off.

Now the army will focus on defeating IS in the half of the city the IS is holding.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the week-long battles to break the siege of Deir al-Zour has claimed the lives of 230 fighters from both the Syrian government forces and the IS militants.

The Observatory placed the death toll among IS militants at 174 and the Syrian soldiers at 57, including 11 officers.

It said that 29 suicide bombers with IS blew themselves up during the battles that have been raging since Sept. 3.

After reaching the southwestern entrance of Deir al-Zour, the Syrian government forces have effectively broken the IS siege, said the Observatory.

The London-based watchdog group said intense battles are raging between the Syrian forces and the IS militants in the surrounding of Bughaliyeh area northwest of Deir al-Zour, in an attempt by the government forces to expand its control perimeter around the city before beginning a military operation against IS inside the city.

In the northern countryside of Deir al-Zour, the US-backed Deir al-Zour Military Council declared Saturday the commencement of a new battle against IS in northern and eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour province and the southern countryside of Hasakah province in northeastern Syria.

The group said it captured the towns of Ruaishid and Zarab from IS in the northern countryside of Deir al-Zour on Saturday, as some activists said the presence of IS in the southern countryside of Hasakah, bordering the northern countryside of Deir al-Zour, has largely diminished under the strikes of the US-backed forces.

The northern countryside of Deir al-Zour is seen by the US as an area of influence as it's close to the northeastern province of Hasakah, a largely Kurdish-controlled territory.

The eastern province of Deir al-Zour is important to the US because of its proximity to the Iraqi border, where the US is trying to establish a foothold to quell the cross-border Iranian support to Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

The government has yet to comment on the US-led operation in Deir al-Zour, but it has repeatedly slammed the US coalition as "illegitimate."

Deir al-Zour is the last major stronghold of IS, as the terror-designated group is also losing its de facto capital of Raqqa to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has captured more than 60 percent of Raqqa.

Posted in: MID-EAST

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