Syrian army breaks 3-year IS siege to Deir al-Zour



Following days of intense battles on the outskirts of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, the Syrian forces and allied fighters broke Tuesday the three-year siege of the Islamic State (IS) to government-held parts in the city.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian army and allied Iranian-backed forces reached the outskirts of Deir al-Zour, and lifted the siege of a government-held enclave.

The progressing forces broke the siege from the western part of the city through the Brigade 137, where a garrison of forces had been besieged by IS for three years.

About 93,000 civilians were surrounded by IS in the enclave of government loyalists in the city, half of which is controlled by IS.

Breaking the siege is the goal of an operation launched in May in the Syrian desert in the eastern countryside of Homs Province in central Syria, coupled with another offensive by the army in the southern countryside of Raqqa Province in northern Syria.

The troops advancing from southern Raqqa were the ones breaking the siege of the Brigade 137, while a second group advancing from the city of al-Sukhnah in eastern Homs has yet to arrive.

The Syrian forces with the help of 5,000 troops besieged in the base will now move to liberate the vicinity of the Deir al-Zour airbase from IS, before pressing forward to liberate the rest of the city from the terror-designated group.

The state TV aired a video showing the united Syrian soldiers in the base shouting in support of Syria and President Bashar al-Assad with a Syrian flag raised in the area.

The TV also said people took to streets in Deir al-Zour and the northern cities of Aleppo and Hasakah to celebrate the victory.

Meanwhile, President Assad contacted the chief of the military operations in Deir al-Zour, hailing the victory there.

The Russian forces have also played an important role in the big victory.

The Russian naval grouping which operates in the Syrian waters fired several Kalibr cruise missiles at IS positions near the city.

The strike ensured the success of the advances of Syrian government troops and contributed to the disruption of IS attempts to regroup forces and strengthen positions near Deir al-Zour, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russia has been participating in anti-terror operations in Syria since September 2015 at the request of Assad.

Deir al-Zour is the last major stronghold of IS, as the terror-designated group is also losing its de facto capital of Raqqa to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has captured more than 60 percent of Raqqa.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Syrian army said breaking the siege to Deir al-Zour constitutes a turning point in the war on terror.

Lifting the siege of Deir al-Zour proves the Syrian army's ability to deal a full defeat to the terrorist project in Syria, it said.

It also brings down the foreign plans to fragment Syria, the statement said, adding that the victory will pave the way for more military operations against IS in Deir al-Zour.

In the meantime, the Syrian cabinet said breaking the siege increases the determination to obliterate the terrorists until security and peace are restored in the entire Syria.

It also said a plan is underway to transport the wounded in Deir al-Zour to the capital Damascus to receive necessary medial treatment.

The cabinet also decided to launch an aerial bridge between Damascus and Deir al-Zour to secure the return of the displaced people from Deir al-Zour to their homes.

Trucks carrying aid and medical supplies are ready to head to Deir al-Zour, while the UN and the government airdropped food and aid to the besieged people during the besiege, according to the Ministry of Trade.

The Syrian government, however, blames the delay in reaching Deir al-Zour on the United States.

A statement issued earlier on Tuesday by the joint operation room of Syria's allies said the liberation of Deir al-Zour wouldn't have been delayed if it weren't for the U.S. and the coalition it's leading.

"The U.S. strike against Syrian military forces in Deir al-Zour helped Daesh expand in an attempt to control the entire city," the statement said.

The U.S. intervention has complicated the situation in Syria and prevented the Syrian army from advancing on several fronts.

Furthermore, the statement accused the U.S. of abetting IS, citing testimonies from captured IS militants about the U.S. involvement in transporting IS commanders from Deir al-Zour ahead of the entry of the Syrian army.

The London-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said the U.S. has recently airdropped troops to help IS militants retreat from Deir al-Zour.