After slowly losing ground in Deir Ezzor city since 2014 in the face of overwhelming odds, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) scored a highly strategic advance this weekend.
Pushing behind enemy lines in the embattled cemetery area on the southern outskirts of the provincial capital, a government fighting force led by 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard – commanded by Major General Issam Zahreddine himself – took control of an important ditch after engaging ISIS insurgents heavily aided by airstrikes on Sunday.
The advance saw the SAA seize a 280 meter long ditch after initial probing attacks revealed a weak point in ISIS’ defensive line. According to Al-Masdar News field correspondent Ibrahim Joudeh, hundreds of jihadist militants have left the cemetery area over the past few weeks to stop the SAA’s Tiger Forces from advancing through Raqqa into Deir Ezzor.
Notably, government troops now enjoy fire control over the Islamic State’s supply line leading from Thurdah Mountain through the cemetery area into ISIS-held suburbs of the city, a narrow corridor that remains intertwined by the vulnerable Workers’ Housing District.
Next up, the SAA and its tribal allies hope to reconnect the two government-held pockets in Deir Ezzor by breaking through ISIS’ lines and reaching the besieged garrison at Deir Ezzor Airbase.