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US-Backed Syrian Opposition Say Won't Allow Regime Forces to Cross Euphrates River - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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US-backed Syrian opposition factions will not let forces backing the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad cross the Euphrates River in their bid to recover eastern Syria, their commander said.

Syrian opposition commander Abu Khawla said a civilian administration would be set up to run areas of Deir al-Zor province being captured from ISIS by his fighters, including its oil fields. The Syrian government was “not fit to lead and rule the people”, he said.

The Deir al-Zor military council, fighting as part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has advanced toward Deir al-Zor from the eastern side of the Euphrates River since launching an offensive into the province a week ago.

Government forces, supported by the Russian air force and Iran-backed militias, have simultaneously advanced into Deir al-Zor from the west. Last week, they broke an ISIS siege of the provincial capital, Deir al-Zor city, which sits on the western bank of the river.

Deir al-Zor province is ISIS’s last major foothold in Syria and Iraq. Rich in oil, it is bisected by the Euphrates River and abuts Iraq.

The Russian- and US-backed campaigns against ISIS in Syria have mostly stayed out of each other’s way as the sides seek to avoid conflict, with the Euphrates often acting as a dividing line between the sides. Talks have been underway to extend a formal demarcation line that has separated the campaigns, officials have said.

Abu Khawla warned government forces and their militia allies against firing across the river as his fighters close in – something he said had happened in recent days.

“Now we have 3 km between us and the eastern riverbank, once our forces reach the area, any shot fired into that area we will consider an attack on the military council,” he said.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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