Kurdish forces announce full liberation of eastern Deir Ezzor, Syria

Kurdish forces announced they have fully liberated Deir Ezzor’s eastern countryside from the Islamic State in Syria on Sunday.

The People's Protection Unit announced it has fully liberated the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State on Sunday. Photo by SANA/EPA
The People’s Protection Unit announced it has fully liberated the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State on Sunday. Photo by SANA/EPA

The People’s Protection Units, or YPG, declared it has regained control of the key area east of the Euphrates River from IS forces.

“The YPG, in cooperation with the Arab tribes of the region, have succeeded in eradicating terror and have liberated the Deir Ezzor countryside to the east of the Euphrates from terrorism,” the Kurdish forces said in a statement.

YPG spokesman Noureddine Mahmoud thanked Russian forces as well as the U.S.-led coalition for logistical and air support and said he hoped for more coordination with the two international powers.

“We hope for an increase in this support and for ensuring the necessary air cover,” YPG said.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he expects the United States to “focus to move toward holding territory instead of arming Syrian Kurdish fighters” as the country looks to shift to a diplomatic-led approach in Syria.

IS held the city of Deir Ezzor on the Euphrates River since 2014, and designated it a crucial transfer point to move fighters and weapons between Syria and Iraq.

Syrian troops declared the city fully liberated Nov. 3.

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to end a policy of supplying weapons to YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist group.

By Daniel Uria