At 6 A.M in the morning, Islamic State militants launched an offensive in southern Deir Ezzor after receiving hundreds of ISIS reinforcements whom had retreated from Palmyra and Qaryatayn shortly prior to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) capturing these cities.
According to an al-Masdar source, ISIS stormed army positions south of Deir Ezzor with 4 armored vehicles that were loaded with explosives. 2 of the trucks approached Deir Ezzor Airbase, while the other 2 were sent towards an army checkpoint at the mountain of Al-Tharda.
Remarkably, all four vehicles were destroyed by well-entrenched Republican Guard soldiers before the ISIS suicide drivers were able to reach their targets.
As skirmishes continued throughout the afternoon, the SAA was also able to destroy 2 ISIS tanks, 2 ISIS BMP’s and some 4-5 trucks loaded with 23mm guns. These events represent the fiercest clashes in Deir Ezzor since January.
The attack is currently ongoing; however, largely due to efforts of the Syrian Air Force and Russian Air Force, ISIS has been unable to gain ground just yet in the area.
Furthermore, a military source in Deir Ezzor says at least 50 ISIS corpses were retrieved by government forces during today’s battle. However, the source was unwilling to reveal the government casualties for security reasons.
With ISIS commanders well aware of the SAA’s intentions to liberate the besieged city of Deir Ezzor through the M5-Highway at Palmyra, Jihadist fighters have now up-scaled their efforts to capture the city.
From an Islamic State perspective, the city of Deir Ezzor represents an annoying government-held enclave at the very center of the group’s caliphate. Government soldiers here – lead by Major General Issam Zahreddine – have resisted ISIS occupation for years. Thus, the city will likely witness its bloodiest clashes ever in the weeks to come.