DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:50 A.M.) – In a remarkable turn of events, ISIS sustained 60 casualties across Deir Ezzor on Monday as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) secured its single-largest advance in months on the eastern frontier as government troops finally breached ISIS’ defensive line at the embattled cometary area.
In a major SAA offensive targeting the southern sector of Deir Ezzor city, the 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard, units of the newly arrived 3rd and 7th Divisions alongside pro-government Al-Shaitat tribal fighters advanced some 400 meters en route to Deir Ezzor Airbase, striking deep inside the heavily fortified cemetery.
Despite Al-Masdar News revealing the looming SAA offensive days in advance, ISIS militants were reportedly caught completely off-guard, surprised by the scale and overwhelming number of SAA personnel spearheading the offensive.
On Tuesday alone, 25 ISIS militants were killed and approximately 35 injured, a military source based in Deir Ezzor told Al-Masdar News. In addition, the SAA captured an entire ISIS trench and destroyed a T-72 tank amid the advancement.
Effectively, troops in the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor are little more than one kilometer from linking up with their besieged comrades at the city’s isolated southern airport.
Deir Ezzor Airbase was completely cutoff from government-held residential areas of Deir Ezzor city following a large-scale Islamic State offensive in January.
Some 85,000 civilians are besieged inside Deir Ezzor but are regularly supplied by airdrops despite a troubling humanitarian situation due to a long-standing siege on Deir Ezzor city.
Deir Ezzor is known to be a deathtrap for ISIS militants as thousands have been killed in battles since 2014. Despite having the city surrounded for years, the Islamic State has not yet been able to defeat government forces led by Major General Issam Zahreddine.
Meanwhile, the SAA has launched a separate anti-ISIS campaign east of Palmyra, ultimately looking to liberate Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State’s stranglehold.
However, government forces in central Syria must advance approximately 155 kilometers eastwards if they are to liberate endangered SAA troops and civilians in Deir Ezzor.