DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:25 A.M.) – Targeting the isolated Deir Ezzor Airbase, ISIS militants launched a series of attacks on the perimeter of the airport on Sunday evening.
Skirmishes were especially intense around the town of Al-Jafrah, directly east of Deir Ezzor Airbase, where entrenched soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) came under a barrage of ISIS firepower and encountered a large numbers of jihadist combattants.
North of Deir Ezzor Airbase, ISIS fighters also tried to overrun SAA fortifications at the Army Brigade Base, the last line of defence before reaching the airfields of the airport.
Although the jihadist assault is still underway as we speak, preliminary reports suggest Syrian government troops have repelled the first wave of attacks.
On Sunday evening, commander-in-chief Major General Issam Zahreddine called in airstrikes to fend off hostile ISIS units, prompting the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) and Russian Airforce to conduct dozens of sorties over the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor.
Non-stop airstrikes were especially intense over the embattled cemetery area and Al-Sina’a neighborhood where large gatherings of jihadist militants had been by observed by Syrian reconnaissance units. SAA artillery units stationed at the 137th Brigade Base also contributed to the bombardment.
Thus far, at least 20 ISIS fighters have been neutralized while an estimated 30 combattants have sustained injures during the clashes over the past 24 hours.
For weeks, the SAA’s 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard, the 137th Mechanized Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division, pro-government tribal fighters and the National Defence Forces (NDF) have tried to lift the siege of Deir Ezzor Airbase, scoring modest gains in the process.
ISIS cutoff Deir Ezzor Airbase from the provincial capital back in January; now, the terror group seems keen to capitalize on the advance by securing footholds around the airport, eventually culminating in its complete takeover.
Yesterday, two SAA soldiers defected to ISIS in Deir Ezzor.