The Islamic State blockade of Deir er-Zor has been breached by Syrian government forces, Syrian state television and activist groups reported on Tuesday. The jihadist group has blockaded the provincial capital for almost 3 years.
The government troops defending the city and those advancing from the west have met, Syrian media reported.
The garrison of Deir ez-Zor has been holding out against Islamic State forces in rural parts of the governorate, sustained by airdrops of crucial supplies.
An estimated 93,000 civilians remain under the protection of Damascus’ forces within the city limits.
In the past few days, the advancing government forces have repeatedly moved swiftly to break through jihadist lines.
A Russian warship in the Mediterranean Sea has fired a salvo of Kalibr cruise missiles at a group of jihadists stationed near the city of Deir ez-Zor in western Syria, the Russian military reported. The targeted militants were mainly from Russia and countries of the CIS.
The frigate Admiral Essen of the Russian Black Sea fleet fired the missiles on Tuesday morning, a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said. The barrage destroyed a communications center, weapons depots and a repair workshop used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, it said.
“The missile strikes supported the advance of Syrian government forces, and have foiled the plans of the ISIL militants to regroup and strengthen terrorist positions near the city of Deir ez-Zor,” the ministry said.
Damascus forces supported by Russian warplanes are currently trying to lift a years-long blockade of the provincial capital Deir ez-Zor. Moscow says that the success of the operation would amount to a strategic defeat of the terrorist group in Syria.
Earlier on Tuesday the importance of the campaign in Deir ez-Zor governorate was stressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is currently in China at the BRICS summit.
“The situation [in Syria] is changing dramatically, and that is an obvious fact. I hope that our partners will follow through with their effort in Raqqa. And Deir ez-Zor is a strategic military stronghold for the entire radical opposition – radical in the worst sense of the word, the ISIS-affiliated opposition.”
“As soon as the operation in Deir ez-Zor is finished, the terrorists will suffer a very serious defeat and the government forces will get an obvious advantage. Then the next step would be to foster the ceasefire and the de-escalation zones and to fully establish the political process,” he added.
The Admiral Essen is one of Russia’s most modern warships, the second of the Admiral Grigorovich class to set sail. It carries 8 vertically-launched Kalibr cruise missiles and previously fired them at IS forces in May and June.
The Deir ez-Zor governorate is located in the western part of Syria on the border with Iraq and is one of the few remaining pockets of territory remaining under the control of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Moscow, which supports Damascus’ offensive against the jihadist groups, believes the full lifting of the siege of the provincial capital will amount to the strategic defeat of IS in Syria.
Syrian Arab Army soldiers joyously embraced their brothers in arms in the Deir ez-Zor area on Tuesday after the three-year Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) siege of the city was breached by government forces on the ground with Russia’s air support.
Exclusive footage obtained by Ruptly shows units of the Syrian Arab Army reunite with their comrades from Brigade 137, whose base in west Deir ez-Zor had been surrounded by IS since 2014.