First Published: 2017-09-13

Syria army tries to encircle IS in Deir Ezzor
Syrian army has brought reinforcements to Deir Ezzor since breaking IS siege last week, now targeting eastern neighbourhoods held by jihadists.
Middle East Online

General view of the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor as government forces battle IS.

DEIR EZZOR - After breaking an Islamic State group blockade, Syria's army is seeking to encircle the remaining jihadist-held parts of Deir Ezzor city, a military source said Wednesday.

The city is the capital of oil-rich eastern Deir Ezzor province, regarded as a strategic prize by both Russian-backed Syrian troops and US-backed fighters.

Last week, Syria's army and allied fighters broke a years-long IS siege of Deir Ezzor, entering two regime-held sections of the city that had been cut off from each other.

Since then, the army has brought reinforcements to the city and is seeking to oust IS from eastern neighbourhoods that run along the Euphrates river, which slices diagonally through the province.

"The army is seeking to encircle Daesh from three sides by controlling the parts of the western bank of the Euphrates river," the source said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Troops would target riverside territory on the city's northwestern edges as well as strategic areas on its southern outskirts, including the key military airport and the village of Al-Jafra, on the banks of the Euphrates.

The operation seeks to "oust Daesh from the city and the province completely," the military source said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, also reported that "fierce fighting has been ongoing since yesterday as the army seeks to expel the jihadists and reach the western bank of the Euphrates."

If the army captures Al-Jafra, "Deir Ezzor will be encircled from three sides, so Daesh will have no way out except the Euphrates which is within firing range of regime artillery and Russian warplanes," he added.

As the Syrian army backed by Russian air support battles IS in Deir Ezzor, a separate offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is under way on the eastern side of the province.

The operation by the alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters began over the weekend, but the SDF has said it was not coordinating the fight with the regime.

Air strikes by Russian and US-led coalition war planes in support of the separate offensives have killed dozens of civilians in recent days.

On Wednesday, the Observatory said suspected US-led coalition strikes on several parts of eastern Deir Ezzor province overnight and throughout the day killed 12 people.

On Tuesday, the monitor reported 35 people killed in Russian and US-led strikes on either side of the Euphrates.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

 

Heavily bombarded Eastern Ghouta awaits UN resolution

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Russia says Syria rebels rejected offer to evacuate E. Ghouta

UN diplomats press for Syria ceasefire without Russia veto

Iranian minister’s presence at UN rights meeting angers critics

Iran warns it will leave nuke deal if banks cannot do business

Qatar to plant thousands of trees to ‘beautify’ World Cup venues

Pro-Kurdish party says Turkey lying about 'no civilian deaths' in Afrin

African migrants protest Israeli detention policy

Egypt sentences 21 to death for planning attacks

Israeli handball teams in Qatar spark furious outcry from locals

UN report highlights S.Sudan journalist treatment

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea

African migrants start hunger strike over Israel expulsion

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

Three militiamen killed in Libya car bomb attack

Russia denies ‘groundless’ accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Netanyahu confidant to testify against him

Iran emergency teams recover bodies from plane crash site

Ten dead in more Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Bahrain activist sentenced to 5 years for Yemen tweets

Lebanese president makes landmark visit to Iraq

US declares readiness to talk Mideast peace

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria