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Syria: IS sets sights on Deir al-Zur Open in fullscreen

Rami Sweid

Syria: IS sets sights on Deir al-Zur

Fighting continues in eastern Syria between IS and regime forces [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 May, 2015

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Islamic State group focuses on defeating regime forces in eastern Syria, before moving towards Damascus.
The Islamic State group is focused on defeating regime forces and opposition factions in eastern Syria.

The militant group wants to control the eastern province of Deir al-Zur, as well as rural areas around the cities of Raqqa and al-Hasaka in north-east Syria, and eastern parts of Homs province.

Syrian regime forces in al-Jourah and al-Qusoor area of Deir al-Zur, and in the city's eastern airbase continue to resist the group's attacks.

Regime forces in control of Tadmur city near the ancient city of Palmyra are also fighting IS, which renewed its attacks on the north of the city on Sunday.

US special forces have raided al-Omar oil field in the east of Deir al-Zur province. They killed a top IS commander and captured his wife in the raid.

     IS wants to take over Tadmur before attacking Syrian opposition areas in eastern Qalamoun.

"Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged with US forces," said the US defence secretary, Ashton Carter, in a statement on Saturday. 

IS has imposed a curfew in the areas under its control in Deir al-Zur, enabling its forces to move easily and carry out military operations.

The militant group has taken Sakr Island, which connects regime-controlled areas in Deir al-Zur to the airbase. IS also reached the outskirts of the regime controlled Harabish area on Friday.

"At least 28 IS fighters and more than 34 regime soldiers died when IS stormed Sakr Island," according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Regime forces responded by bombing IS areas in Deir al-Zur city, killing a number of residents and damaging homes.

IS has besieged regime-controlled areas of Deir al-Zur since December last year, causing a massive humanitarian crisis for the nearly 200,000 residents left behind, according to estimates by the Red Crescent.

The humanitarian organisation has only managed to deliver one food shipment to areas beseiged by IS.

Local sources in Tadmur told al-Araby al-Jadeed the group had reached the city's northern borders after taking al-Hayl oil field. It has also taken control of regime's checkpoints connecting Tadmur to the city of al-Sukhna, from where IS launched its attack on Tadmur.

IS wants to take over Tadmur before attacking Syrian opposition areas in eastern Qalamoun. Its goal is to open a route connecting eastern Syria to Bir al-Qasab, east of Damascus, and to al-Hajar al-Aswad and the Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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