BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:35 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) Tiger Forces are within 40 kilometers of the strategic city of Deir Ezzor according to a high-ranking commander within the elite formation.
Over the last several days, the true nature of SAA advances on the ground in southern Raqqa Governorate has been shrouded in secrecy for a number of political and military reasons.
Officially, SAA military sources have announced the capture of the town of al-Dakhelah (on the western bank of the Euphrates River) as well as the B’ir al-Sabkhawi oil well and the al-Sabkhawi gas field in Raqqa Governorate’s far southeastern countryside. This was reported about 10 hours ago.
However, one particular Tiger Forces military source has said, despite the fact that this is officially denied, that today the Tiger Forces managed to achieve a mammoth 22 kilometer advance down the western bank of the Euphrates reaching the town of Shayma – located 40 kilometers north of Deir Ezzor city.
The commander attributed today’s large advance to a general collapse of ISIS defenses in the area.
The Tiger Forces commander added that the SAA will now face a harder time pushing towards Deir Ezzor and estimated that the SAA should reach the city by the start of September.
In any case, the advance by the SAA’s Tiger Forces over the last week has come as a major surprise for observers of the Syrian war, with even the most optimistic pro-government commentators not expecting the city to within striking distance until the late autumn of 2017.