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Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs and carry a Syrian national flag on the edge  of the historic city of Palmyra (File Photo)
Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs and carry a Syrian national flag on the edge  of the historic city of Palmyra (File Photo)

Syria Army Secures IS-Held Town in Homs Province

IS has lost swathes of Syrian territory to separate campaigns being waged by government forces as the army prepare for the liberation of Deir- al-Zor

Syria Army Secures IS-Held Town in Homs Province

Syrian government forces seized full control of the last major town in Homs Province held by the self-styled Islamic State terror group, Syrian state media reported on Saturday, as the army and its allies press a multi-pronged advance into eastern areas held by the militant group.
Syrian state media cited a military source saying IS militants had been killed and their weapons destroyed at the town of al-Sukhna, some 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra, Reuters reported.
The town is also located some 50 km (30 miles) from the provincial boundary of Deir al-Zor Province, Islamic State’s last major foothold in Syria and a major target for the Syrian government.
The militants have lost swathes of Syrian territory to separate campaigns being waged by government forces backed by Russia and Iran, and by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia. The SDF is currently focused on capturing Raqqa city from Islamic State.
Syrian government forces advancing from the west have recently crossed into Deir al-Zor from the southern areas of Raqqa Province.
Islamic State controls nearly all of Deir al-Zor, which is bordered to the east by Iraq. The Syrian government still controls a pocket of territory in Deir al-Zor city, and a nearby military base.

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According to RT, experts say if the Syrian army wins the battle for Deir al-Zor, it would be a hugely significant achievement. However, Israel and Saudi Arabia may try to prevent that from happening as the region is part the so-called ‘Shia Crescent’, they add.
The Syrian army has been stepping up its efforts to break IS’s siege of the city of Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria.
The Syrian army has been under siege in a tiny portion of the city for almost three years, and terrorist forces still surround the city.
However, it “has gained a lot of ground in the past few weeks from different axis toward the city of Deir al-Zor,” says Ammar Waqqaf, director of the Gnosos think tank.
“Once they secure the main or the last stronghold before Deir al-Zor, which is the town of Al-Sukhnah, it should be an easier ride toward Deir ez-Zor. Perhaps in the next few weeks, that would be a tangible objective to see it happen,” he told RT.
If the Syrian army succeeds, it would be a significant development for the war overall, he says.
“We need to understand that unlike previous operations, where the Syrian army liberated certain areas, in most of the cases they were like a military garrison that held out against terrorists and rebels. This time around we’re talking about 200,000 or so civilians those are trapped and have refused to submit to ISIS. [They] are in a sort of unison with the Syrian army. If they are liberated…this would be a huge psychological advantage to the Syrian government,” Waqqaf says.
Deir al-Zor is a strategically important city as it’s the second biggest province in Syria which links Iraq to Syria.

 

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