Syrian army recaptures Deir al-Zour in major blow to ISIL

World Today

This frame grab from a video released on Nov. 2, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows a Syrian army tank firing during a battle against Islamic State militants in Deir el-Zour, Syria. The Syrian army announced on Friday, Nov. 3 it liberated the long-contested eastern city of Deir el-Zour from the Islamic State group. (SANA via AP)

ISIL is facing mounting setbacks in both Iraq and Syria. Iraqi troops on Friday said they have taken over a key border crossing with Syria at Husaybah, cutting off a militant supply line. A major victory also occurred inside Syria itself. CGTN’s Alaa Ebrahim reports.

The Syrian army on Friday declared it had retaken the key eastern city of Deir-al-Zour, a border town that had been in militant hands for several years. The end result is a shrinking footprint for ISIL in the region.

The latest advances in the Syrian city come after the army managed to break a three-year siege by ISIL militants in September.

Since then, Syrian military units, with air support from the Russian Air Force, have advanced steadily against ISIL in the Deir al-Zour province, the main province in eastern Syria that stretches along the border with Iraq and is considered the country’s richest in terms of oil and natural gas fields.

According to a field commander in the city, Syrian troops broke the last defensive lines north of the city before dawn on Friday. The officer who spoke with CGTN said his soldiers were still combing the area in search of any remaining ISIL militants. The last defenders fled at night to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, where they still control a handful of villages.

Some believe the goal for the next few days will be most likely towards the city of Al Bukamal, the last stronghold of ISIL in eastern Syria.