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Syrian regime forces capture 'last IS stronghold' Deir az-Zour

Deir az-Zour had been dominated by the IS group since 2014 [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 November, 2017

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Regime forces have reportedly ousted the Islamic State group from their Syrian stronghold of Deir az-Zour, which came under the militants' control in 2014.
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have captured Deir az-Zour, the Islamic State group's last major stronghold in Syria, state television has reported.

The report follows earlier news that pro-government forces had expelled IS fighters from the city's east late on Thursday.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that pro-Assad forces had taken the city following weeks of intense fighting.

"The city is completely liberated from terrorism," the state television broadcast said.

Local media outlets also reported the Syrian army is carrying out clean-up operations to defeat the last pockets of IS militants in the city.

Deir az-Zour, which is eastern Syria's largest city, has been dominated by IS since 2014, the year in which the extremist group declared its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Since then, Deir az-Zour has acted as a strategic city for IS, largely due to its close proximity to Iraq.

Having now lost several major cities and towns in Iraq and Syria, the fall of Deir az-Zour marks the latest blow for IS.

Deir az-Zour, Syria [click to enlarge]

Accross the border in Iraq, IS have lost much ground to Iraq's government and its allied militias, who are advancing along the Euphrates river.

As Syrian regime forces closed in on Deir az-Zour backed by Russian airstrikes, rebel groups also raced to take control of areas of the city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, an Arab and Kurdish rebel group backed by the United States, had also taken territory in Deir az-Zour in battles against IS.

In some places, the rival SDF group and Syrian army troops took up positions in Deir az-Zour that were just miles apart.

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