In eastern Syria, along the Euphrates River, lies the ancient city of Deir Ez-Zor. Before the Syrian crisis began in 2011, the city was known for its pluralism as Sunnis and Orthodox Christians lived peacefully side by side. However, with a regional caliphate proclaimed, many militants loyal to the Islamic State have set their eyes on the city.
Deir Ez-Zor is roughly split 50/50 between the Syrian government and the hostile Islamic State. However, with ISIS’ capture of Palmyra earlier this year, government troops have come under increasing pressure as their last supply line to the city has been cut. This has left the army and local inhabitants of the city completely dependent on supplies being flown in by helicopter.
In an attempt to halt the flow of supplies, ISIS fighters have launched daily attacks on Deir Ez-Zor Airbase for months; however, they have been unsuccessful in their efforts so far. This is largely explained by a major deployment of the elite defensive soldiers of the 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard along with their fearsome Brigadier General, Issam Zahreddine.
Despite a permanent blockade, a bag of potatoes in Deir Ez-Zor costs approximately 600 Syrian Pounds which converts to about 3 dollars. In comparison, an al-Masdar source in Lattakia is able to buy his potatoes for just 350 Syrian Pounds. Last month, an al-Mayadeen report revealed that civilians could be evacuated from the city for 80 dollars. Sadly, most residents remain poor or jobless due to the ongoing conflict.