Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a surprise offensive south of Deir Ezzor which had government forces capture Tharbeh mountain and several points along an important previously ISIS-held road to Deir Ezzor. Now, soldiers of the SAA are able to overlook the Thayyem oil fields which represent one of ISIS’ most important sources of income in Syria.
While government-held areas in Deir Ezzor are de facto sourrounded by ISIS, today’s advance represents a sign of hope for entrenched SAA soldiers inside the city. Also, with Tiger Forces on the brink of capturing Palmyra to the west, it is not unlikely that the Syrian Government will be able to break the siege within a few months.
In many ways, the resistance offered by the Syrian Arab Army’s 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard – alongside the 137th Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division and the National Defense Forces – has prevented ISIS from entering the highly populated western parts of Syria. Furthermore, much credit must be given to Syrian Major General Issam Zahreddine; this man has single-handedly upheld the moral of blockaded civilians and soldiers inside the city for several years.
In fact, largely due to the Islamic State being occupied with events at Deir Ezzor, ISIS fighters have only been able to invade 7 out of Syria’s 14 provinces. Nevertheless, both the Syrian Government and the Islamic State have lost hundreds of soldiers/fighters over the past year during an ongoing battle for control of the city.