DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:10 P.M.) – On Thursday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) unleashed thousands of footsoldiers and hundreds of military vehicles in a massive joint push which ultimately linked up government forces on the Palmyra frontier with those stationed on the provincial border between Homs and Rif Dimashq.
With all roads linking Damascus and Palmyra now under government control for the first time since 2014, the SAA was able to reopen the M90, M53 and M45 highways today. The rapid coordinated offensive against the Islamic State represents the single largest advance by any faction across Syria in 2017.
Effectively, ISIS has been forced to withdraw entirely from central Homs, conceding control of some 3,000 square kilometers in the space of 48 hours. Notably, the SAA advance has reduced the caliphate’s size by several percentage points.
Among the liberated sites today were the Abu Dali mountains, Manqourah, Thunyat Wadha, Al-Anebah triangle, Khan Al-Anebah, Ulaniyah town, Bardah town, the entire Al-Sawwanah area, Manqourah Quarries, the Zaqaqiyat Khalil mountains and the key junction town of Al-Busyrah.
In addition, Syrian government troops have cutoff non-hostile opposition forces in the East Qalamoun pocket for good, ending their dreams of meeting up with US-backed rebels based around the desert.
The SAA also released footage of its forces advancing through the desert, deploying infantry, tanks, artillery and overwhelming airpower to drive back the ISIS insurgents.
Click here for a full interactive map of the region, depicting recent advances.