BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:42 P.M.) – The Islamic State terrorist group is mobilizing thousands of fighters in Syria’s east near the Iraqi border for an all-out offensive that will most likely fall on US-backed Syrian forces, so hint a mix of official and unofficial but well-informed sources.
Reports talk of an operation by ISIS aimed at restoring control over key areas along the Euphrates-Khabur river axis and its surrounding desert countryside – namely oil sites and some large towns.
If true, the only plausible target for ISIS seems to be US-backed Syrian forces that are based in the Deir Ezzor and Hasakah regions given their relatively weak state compared to Syrian and Iraqi government forces which are the only other potential targets.
This is particularly the case since thousands of seasoned US-backed fighters departed east Syria for Afrin to confront Turkey’s Olive Branch operation and following a major reduction in the amount of airstrikes by American warplanes against ISIS across the Deir Ezzor and Hasakah regions (which has given the terrorist group time to regroup).
ISIS is known (for a matter of fact) to still possess many thousands of fighters on the east shore of the Euphrates and in a large yet unsecured desert region along Syria’s easternmost border with Iraq.