Syrian troops battling ISIS advance toward US-backed force

Pauline Gross
September 20, 2017

Last week, the Syrian army broke the IS siege on the air base, just days after breaking the siege of the Brigade 173 west of Deir al-Zour.

"Today, Syrian government forces - reinforced by a unit of the 4th Armoured Division and with the support of Russian aviation - crossed the Euphrates River in the Deir Az Zor region", a ministry statement said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the latest development comes in the framework of the regime forces' attempts to encircle and besiege Deir al-Zour before advancing on the eastern countryside of the city along the western bank of the river.

Read the whole story from Reuters.

Syrian troops seized a suburb of the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Sunday, tightening the noose around Islamic State, a Syrian military source said. "Despite tough resistance of Islamic State militants, an area of more than 60 square kilometers on the Euphrates left bank has been liberated", he said.

The Russian Defence Ministry on Tuesday accused the USA and the Syrian opposition of trying to hamper the successful advance of the Syrian government troops against the Islamic State. "Even if the US-led coalition is not willing to fight terrorism in Syria, it should at least not prevent those who really do that consistently and effectively [from fighting terrorist groups]".

The pro-government forces crossed the river using makeshift bridges, and advanced within 3 miles (5km) of positions held by the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the FT said. But a spokesperson for the US -led coalition told the Associated Press on Monday that lines of communication are being maintained to prevent clashes between the two forces as they converge to fight ISIS.

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Syrian troops battling the Islamic State crossed to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in Deir el-Zour on Monday, threatening a potential standoff with the US-backed forces operating there.

The Russian foreign ministry said units of the Syrian army had already crossed.

That line runs from the neighbouring province of Raqa southeast along the Euphrates River to Deir Ezzor.

That proximity likely contributed to Saturday's Russian airstrike that the coalition said wounded SDF fighters while US Special Operations Forces were present.

The attack - orchestrated by the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance (HTS), the Turkistan Islamic Party and Free Syrian Army affiliates - targeted government-held villages in northern Hama province.

The Syrian government estimates about 70,000 people have survived on erratic air drops of food and supplies during the siege.

Other reports by GizPress

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