Moments ago, horrific reports emerged that militants loyal to the Islamic State (ISIS) have executed hundreds of civilians in Deir Ez-Zor amidst a huge offensive to capture Al-Bughayliyah and Ayyash. Although the overall death toll is unknown for now, some 280 civilians, many whom were women and children, are believed to have been executed at point blank range allegedly due to their allegiance with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Among those reported dead, only 5 were captured SAA soldiers.
Earlier today, some 28 government troops were also killed in clashes with ISIS at the Deir Ez-Zor districts of Ayyash, Haweeqa, and Al-Bughayliyah. Todays ISIS offensive was well-planned as tens of ISIS suicide bombers rushed across the Euphrates river by boat as to overwhelm local Syrian Army defenders. Meanwhile, other fighters attacked Ayyash from the northern flank.
Upon entering the suburbs, ISIS militants summarily executed all people they could get their hands on before fleeing the area entirely. Sadly, children as young as 8 months old were executed during these horrible events. Many SAA soldiers have relatives in this area and Al-Bughayliyah has long been a Syrian Army stronghold; these facts hint to the reasons behind the attack.
The city of Deir Ez-Zor has been entirely besieged by the Islamic State since late 2014. Nevertheless, government troops of the Syrian Arab Army’s 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard still maintain control of about 50% of the city. If ISIS was to capture the city of Deir Ez-Zor, this would free up much needed troops for the Aleppo front which has largely collapsed near al-Bab and Manbij.