Syrian Arab Army started to encircle ISIS forces in the pocket in Deir Ezzor, one of their last remaining major strongholds in the country.
Backed by Russian air power, Syrian regime forces have already retaken parts of the city on the Euphrates river, but eastern districts still remain under ISIS control. Syrian forces have surrounded the city on three sides, with the extremists using the river as an escape route.
Russian Defense Ministry said that Syrian troops crossed the river on Monday.
“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 Ezzor region,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement said elite Syrian units captured several villages on the eastern banks of the river, while UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirming that Syrian troops crossed the river using a floating bridge.
Deir Ezzor, a strategically important city in Syria’s eastern desert, has been the target of a major offensive by Syrian regime forces, which already reclaimed large swats of territory from ISIS.
The terrorist organization still controls large portion of Syria’s oil-rich eastern province which borders Iraq.
At the same time, U.S. backed Kurdish forces and Syrian Democratic Opposition are besieging Raqqa, a key city in northern Syria, regarded as the ISIS capital.
According to reports from local media, Kurdish forces captured a hospital in western Raqqa. U.S backed forces have managed to wrestle control of western neighborhoods, and killed some 32 ISIS fighters.
War in Syria resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 people, with millions displaced since the conflict started in 2011.
Source: The Jordan Times
Photo: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov