Syrian Army, Allies Close in on Islamic State in Deir al-Zor

The advance breaks an ISIS siege that had lasted for three years

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A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces in the eastern part of Deir al Zor
A fighter from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the eastern part of Deir al Zor, Sept. 12, 2017. Credit: Rodi Said/Reuters

Syrian troops seized a suburb of the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Sunday, tightening the noose around Islamic State militants, a military source said. 

The Syrian army and allied forces captured the al-Jafra district at the edge of Deir al-Zor city on the western bank of the Euphrates, the Syrian military source said. Islamic State militants could only escape by crossing the river. 

"They have no outlet except crossing the Euphrates towards the eastern bank and fleeing towards the desert, or [the towns of] al-Bukamal and al-Mayadin," the source told Reuters. 

Russia's RIA news agency cited an unnamed source as saying on Sunday that the Syrian army has cut Islamic State's main supply line in the city after taking control of al-Jafra.

The Syrian army pushed into the city this month with the help of Russian air power and Iran-backed militias. The advance broke an Islamic State siege of an enclave there and a nearby air base that had lasted three years. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army and its allies had encircled Islamic State in the city overnight by taking al-Jafra near the air base there. The militants hold nearly a third of the city, the British-based war monitoring group said.

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