Beirut – Syrian regime forces were able on Sunday to completely lift the siege of Deir al-Zour after controlling the international highway linking the city to Damascus.
“Regime forces were able to achieve a strategic advancement today (Sunday) by breaking the siege of neighborhoods inside Deir al-Zour,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Observatory added that regime forces arrived to the western entrance of the city, controlled the Deir al-Zour-Damascus road and crossed the Maqabir area to the Deir al-Zour military airport, only a few days after lifting the Brigade 137 siege.
The military achievement against ISIS came amid reports that at least 34 civilians were killed and several others injured when Russian warplanes attacked buses carrying civilians, who were traveling to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River near Deir al-Zour city.
The Observatory said that residents in the area were now using buses to move between the western and the eastern banks of the Euphrates River after most of the bridges over the river had been shelled during the past months.
Meanwhile, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reached on Sunday a hilltop that lies seven kilometers from the eastern bank of the Euphrates across from Deir al-Zour city, the Observatory said.
The SDF announced on Saturday it had begun clearing ISIS militants from areas east of the Euphrates.
On Sunday, their forces surprised ISIS militants in the industrial city of Deir al-Zour and were able to reach its first streets.
Director of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that the real battle between ISIS and SDF forces has not yet started.
“The advancement that was achieved until now is limited to the desert areas and the hilltops in the absence of any clashes,” Abdel Rahman added.