DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:00 P.M.) – Moments ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) plunged into Deir Ezzor province from its northern flank after speeding up its large-scale push through ISIS-held territory along the Euphrates River.
After clashing with ISIS militants throughout the day, the SAA’s Tiger Forces – heavily assisted by pro-government Al-Baqir tribal fighters – imposed full control over the towns of Jaber and Al-Khamisiyah, thereby putting them within striking distance of the ISIS stronghold of Ma’adan.
This jihadist bastion, located some 65 kilometers northwest of Deir Ezzor city, remains one of few major obstacles along the M5-highway before SAA troops under the command of Suheil Al-Hassan break the long-standing siege of the provincial capital.
On Sunday alone, the Russian Air Force carried out over 20 sorties on ISIS positions in and around Ma’adan, looking to clear the path for the SAA’s elite assault troops and in the same time demoralize jihadist militants.
Meanwhile, early reports indicate the SAA has also liberated the Ma’adan Silos south of the town itself, thereby hinting that government forces intend to envelop Ma’adan in the coming hours.
Given the current rate of advance, government forces are expected to reach Deir Ezzor city within two months. The push from Raqqa correlates with two simultaneous pincers from the Suknah front and Hamimah front further south.
Largely due to the SAA’s counter-insurgency efforts, the Islamic State’s territory has dwindled rapidly, bringing the caliphate’s life expectancy in Syria to little more than 18 months, according to Al-Masdar News field correspondent Ibrahim Joudeh.
Click here for an interactive battle map of Syria that provides strategic understanding of the aforementioned military developments.