Regime military: “We will continue operations until we eliminates ISIS and drive what’s left of them out of [Deir ez-Zor] province.”
Trying to clear ISIS from its remaining major positions in eastern Syria — and racing a Kurdish-led force to do so — pro-Assad units closed on the city of Mayadin near the Iraq border on Friday.
The media outlet of Hezbollah, a foreign ally of the regime, said the pro-Assad advance is within 10 km (6.2 miles) of the city and has taken positions parallel with a key road. Other pro-Assad outlets said the regime army and foreign militias, supported by Russian airstrikes, had occupied grain silos and entered the ruins of a castle on the western edge of Mayadin.
“The Syrian army is continuing to strike the terrorist Daesh (Islamic State) group fiercely in Deir ez-Zor and its surroundings…and will continue its operations until it eliminates (Daesh) and drive what’s left of them out of this province,” a regime military source said.
The pro-Assad offensive, moving rapidly to the east, entered Deir ez-Zor Province at the start of September. It broke a three-year ISIS siege of Deir ez-Zor city and the nearby military base.
However, last week ISIS counter-attacked, not only regaining towns and villages south of Deir ez-Zor city but also driving back into eastern Homs Province and claiming the town of Qaryatayn.
Throughout this week, the regime military has proclaimed its return to the offensive between Deir ez-Zor and Mayadin, 45 km (28 miles) to the south, along the Euphrates River.
On Friday it also asserted that it had cleared the last remaining ISIS positions in eastern Homs Province. The military sources and State media are still silent about Qaryatayn.
The pro-Assad units are also facing a possible showdown with the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who closed on Deir ez-Zor city from the north and east. Tensions have risen as the pro-Assad offensive and Russia defied a SDF demand not to cross the Euphrates to the eastern bank, with the SDF twice accusing Russian warplane of bombing their positions.