ABU FAS (Syria)
US-backed fighters launched a new offensive on Saturday to oust Daish from swathes of Syria’s eastern Deir Al Zor province, a top commander announced as the Syrian army and its allies recaptured an oilfield in the province, state TV reported.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are already fighting for Daish’s de facto capital in Raqa, and they will now aim to clear the radicals from territory east of the Euphrates River, said Ahmad Abu Khawlah.
Abu Khawlah, who heads the SDF’s Deir Al Zor Military Council (DEMC), read the statement at a press conference in the village of Abu Fas in Syria’s northeast Hasakeh province.
He said his forces had begun fighting to push Daish out of remaining territory in Hasakeh province and further south in the strategically vital province of Deir Al Zor.
“Pivoting towards Deir Al Zor was inevitable… We are taking the first step to liberate territory east of the Euphrates River in Deir Al Zor,” Abu Khawlah said.
Since 2014, Daish has held swathes of the eastern province, which border Iraq, and about 60 per cent of Deir Al Zor city.
Saturday’s announcement came as Russia-backed Syrian government forces were waging a separate offensive to oust Daish from Deir Al Zor city.
“We are not coordinating with the government or with Russia. We are coordinating with the international coalition,” said Abu Khawlah.
He said US-led coalition air strikes had already helped them advance “around 30 kilometres” in their first clashes.
Government forces also seized part of a main highway running from Deir Al Zor down to the city of Al Mayadeen, to which many Daish radicals have retreated, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
On Saturday, the army and militias fighting alongside it seized the Teym oilfield in desert south of Deir Al Zor, state TV said. Deir Al Zor is in an oil-rich area of Syria.
To the east of Teym and south of the air base, government forces also recaptured part of the main road running from Deir Al Zor to Al Mayadeen, downstream along the Euphrates river and closer to the Iraq border, the Observatory reported.