The jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group have been driven into Syria from the strategic western bank of the Euphrates by pro-government troops, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) reported on Thursday.
The forces supported by Russia, allied with the Damascus regime, fought the jihadists on the west bank of the river which diagonally cuts the province of Deir Ezzor, while US-backed forces fought against IS on the shore Eastern.
After several months of fighting against jihadists, pro-government forces now control half of the oil province, the Observatory said Thursday.
“The pro-regime forces hold the western half of the province, from Maadane (north-west) to the Iraqi border,” says the NGO, assuring that “Daech (Arabic acronym for IS) had no more presence on the west bank of the river “.
Citing a military source, the official Sana news agency reported Wednesday night that government troops and forces allied with them had captured about 20 localities and villages in the area.
“Syrian army troops, in coordination with Allied forces, have taken control of the Euphrates Basin at Deir Ezzor, after eliminating the latest Daesh terrorists in the area,” Sana reported.
The announcement came days after a powerful Kurdish militia in Syria said it had made significant headway against IS on the eastern bank of the river.
Ally of the Syrian government, Russia has nevertheless supported the two offensives of Deir Ezzor, east and west of the river, by air strikes.
Three years after conquering vast territories in Syria and Iraq, the IS has seen its “caliphate” collapse following multiple offensives aimed at the two neighboring countries. In Syria, the jihadist group lost its “capital” Raqa in October.
But the OSDH emphasizes that the IS still holds some pockets on Syrian territory.
“Its most important presence is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, where the group still holds 8% of the province of Deir Ezzor,” his director, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
ISIS also maintains a presence in the northeastern Hama and Homs province as well as in the Yarmouk Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus, while an allied group holds positions in southern Syria.