BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:20 A.M.) – A vast area of desert countryside held by Islamic State forces in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor is now becoming a major problem for the Syrian Army and allied paramilitaries despite the fact that they have, technically, cordoned-off the area.
For months now, Syrian pro-government forces have upheld a blockade of ISIS-controlled desert countryside – several thousand square kilometers in size – that stretches throughout eastern Homs and western Deir Ezzor.
Yet despite this, terrorists with the pocket continue to conduct raids and ambush attacks from all directions (from As-Sukhnah, to Humaymah and Abu Kamal) against the Syrian Army and allied paramilitaries – often so with deadly results.
The latest attack by ISIS from the region resulted in the death of a Syrian Army general who was the chief of intelligence for the Deir Ezzor region.
All initial reports by military-affiliated sources, opposition sources and Syrian conflict observer sources made several months ago placed ISIS manpower in the blockaded desert region at about two hundred fighters with a handful of technicals.
Now it has become apparent that the ISIS force holding out in the region is much larger – perhaps closer to one thousand fighters with 100 or so armed pickups who hide in tunnels, caves and canyons (something the terrorist group is quite adept at).