Syrian army, allies advance towards Deir al-Zor

Syria’s army and its allies advanced towards their enclave in Deir al-Zor, besieged by Islamic State forces, on Sunday, taking al-Kharata oil field, a war monitor reported.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks along a deserted street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A man walks along a deserted street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi/File Photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has focussed this year on the campaign in Syria’s desert, striking eastwards in a multi-pronged assault against Islamic State to restore Deir al-Zor, where the government pocket has been surrounded for years.

Sunday’s advance brings the army and its allies to about 10km (7 miles) from the city, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

On Saturday, a military media unit run by Assad’s ally Hezbollah reported that the army had captured Jebel al-Bashri to the west of Deir al-Zor, meaning it was less than 30 km from the city.

A Syrian military source said on Saturday the army had also advanced eastwards from Sukhna, on the main road between Damascus and Deir al-Zor, along a parallel route of attack.

Pro-government forces are also fighting to eradicate a large Islamic State enclave they left to their rear in central Syria as they advanced towards Deir al-Zor.

Reuters