The Assad regime’s military and foreign allies are trying to push back an Islamic State counter-attack in eastern Syria.
On Thursday ISIS exposed the fragility of the pro-Assad offensive, even with Russian air support, that has moved into Deir ez-Zor Province and broken the three-year Islamic State siege of Deir ez-Zor city and a nearby military airbase. Attacking on three fronts, ISIS fighters took a series of towns and villages along the Euphrates River south of Deir ez-Zor city. Perhaps more importantly, they seized gas and oil fields and moved back into eastern Homs Province, threatening the town of Sukhna.
The regime military initially refused to admit losses, even as pro-Assad outlets acknowledged the ISIS assaults, occurring on the same day that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issued his first audio statement in almost a year. However, on Friday regime ally Hezbollah effectively did so as it claimed that the road between Deir ez-Zor city and Palmyra in central Syria had been retaken.
“The Syrian army and its allies completely secured the Deir al-Zor-Palmyra highway after foiling the intense attack,” a Hezbollah media unit said. “The highway has become passable for traffic in both directions to and from Deir ez-Zor.”
“A commander in the military alliance” — likely to be from Hezbollah — told Reuters earlier on Friday that the road was being used only when absolutely necessary, and confirmed that pro-Assad forces were fighting to recover lost ground, including the town of al-Shula on the highway.
The commander said at least 10 Hezbollah fighters had been killed.
The Islamic State said on Friday that more than 50 pro-Assad troops were slain.
A leading analyst of the situation in eastern Syria summarizes:
Just for the record, I don't believe these ISIS counterattacks will go too far. ISIS will soon start to be pushed back there.
But the episode is huge in the sense that it's significantly disrupted the Russian flow/march in Deir Ezzor.
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) September 29, 2017
At Least 28 Killed in Latest Russian-Regime Attacks on Idlib Province
At least 28 civilians have been slain in overnight airstrikes by Russian and regime warplanes on Idlib Province in northwest Syria.
Local sources said four children were among the dead in the town of Amanaz near the Turkish border. Twelve other people died in Harem, 20 km (12.5 miles) northwest of Idlib city.
Russia and the Assad regime’s air force renwed attacks on the province on September 19, even though Russia had declared the area a “de-escalation zone” earlier this month. They used the pretexts of attacks by rebel factions and the jihadists of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham on neighboring northern Hama Province on that day.
In the past 11 days, more than 200 people have been killed; hospitals, civil defense centers, and power stations have been targeted; and camps for displaced people have been struck.