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Syria army tries to encircle Daesh in Deir Ezzor — military source

By AFP - Sep 13,2017 - Last updated at Sep 13,2017

Smoke rises from buildings in the area of Bughayliyah, on the northern outskirts of Deir Ezzor on Wednesday, as Syrian forces advance during their ongoing battle against Daesh (AFP photo)

DEIR EZZOR, Syria — After breaking a Daesh extremist group blockade, Syria's army is seeking to encircle the remaining extremist-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.

In Damascus Wednesday, President Bashar Assad said the country was "advancing steadily towards victory thanks to the sacrifices of its army, the determination of its people and the support of its allies," state news agency SANA said.

Last week, Syria's army and allied fighters broke a years-long Daesh 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 Daesh 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 told AFP

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 extremists 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 Daesh 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 warplanes 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.

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The article forgets to mention the SDF forces are within DeZ city and have fire control over large stretches of the northern river bank and are now fighting in the last village north of the bank, before reaching that northern bank. At the time of this comment, they may even have reached the riverbank.

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