Syrian army breaks 3-year IS siege on Deir al-Zour city

Xinhua
The Syrian government forces broke the Islamic State (IS) siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour on Tuesday, State TV reported.
Xinhua
Ammar Safarjalani / Xinhua

Ambulances escort Islamic State (IS) militants and their family members as they are evacuated from the barrens of Qara in western Qalamoun in Syria, on Aug. 28, 2017. Around 700 Islamic State (IS) militants and their families started evacuating their last stronghold in western Qalamoun region toward the eastern city of Bukamal on Monday, according to Xinhua reporters at the site. 

The Syrian government forces broke the Islamic State (IS) siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour on Tuesday, State TV reported.

The three-year-long siege has been lifted when the advancing Syrian army reached the besieged Brigade 137 military base in western Deir al-Zour, according to the state TV.

The Syrian flag was hoisted when the advancing troops met with the besieged forces in the base.

The Syrian forces have been advancing from two directions to break the siege on Deir al-Zour where 93,000 civilians have been under siege since 2015.

The military forces have been advancing from the southern countryside of Raqqa, passing the Bishri mountain, which has been recently captured by the army.

The other attacking forces have been advancing from the city of al-Sukhnah in the desert in the eastern countryside of Homs province.

The first group coming from Bishri mountain is the one who broke the siege on the base and thus technically lifted the siege off Deir al-Zour city.

Around 5,000 Syrian soldiers are besieged in the base, and once united with the attacking troops they will then move toward the air base of Deir al-Zour, which is also under IS siege.

Deir al-Zour is so important for IS due to its proximity to Iraq and the oil fields in that part of the country.

For the Syrian army breaking the siege and capturing all IS-held parts of Deir al-Zour will help in securing the border with Iraq and retrieving the oil fields to shore up the crumbling energy sector in the war-torn country.

But the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are also planning to take eastern parts of Deir al-Zour from IS, as the United States sees an interest in that area.

The SDF is also fighting IS in the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS. And with the advance of the Syrian army toward Deir al-Zour, the Kurdish-led SDF are feverishly trying to score as much as possible in Raqqa to prove it's capable of scoring a victory against IS.

On Monday, two Russian soldiers were killed by IS shelling near Deir al-Zour. The Russian air force is heavily striking IS positions there to pave the way for the ground forces to enter the city.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government said it had prepared truckloads of aid to enter the city.

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