Syrian military officials confirmed that Syrian Arab Army (SAA) forces have taken full control over vast swaths of territory in southeastern Syria and reached the Iraqi border. The officials described it as a decisive moment in the struggle against IS in Syria.
“This achievement is a strategic turning point in the war on terrorism and a springboard to expand military operations in the Badia [region in southeast Syria] and along the border with the friendly Iraq,” a Saturday statement from the General Command said, as quoted by the state Syrian news agency, SANA.
The Syrian army reached the border with Iraq near northeast of al-Tanf crossing on Friday. The Syrian army forces, with the aid of Russia, Iran-backed Shia militias and Hezbollah re-captured the strategically important town of Palmyra in March, and launched an offensive to the south and east of the town.
According to reports, large number of IS fighters had been killed in the region, which enabled the government forces to regain control of number of strategic positions within the territory.
Government forces had managed to liberate a significant portion of territory in the southeast of the country and inflict a series of defeats on enemy forces in the region.
The government advances in the region reportedly endangered the position of U.S. backed militias, which caused the U.S. to target Syrian army forces. Earlier in May, U.S. carried out airstrikes against pro-government convoy, claiming they ‘posed a threat’ to to US and partner troops at Tanf base near the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border.
Both the regime in Damascus and Russia criticized U.S. coalition airstrikes and described them as an attempt to “hinder the advance of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies in their war on terrorism.”
Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to establish safe zones in Syria in several Syrian provinces, as a mean to de-escalate the conflict. The agreement received support from the U.S.
Despite the relative success of the de-escalation zones in reducing the extent of the conflict, fighting has continued in other parts of Syria.
Photo Credit: Rodi Said / Reuters