Syrian regime strikes ISIS positions after clashes in country's interior

The attack near Palmyra led the regime to carry out air strikes against militant positions

Syrian army soldiers drive past the Arch of Triumph in the historic city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate. Reuters, file
Syrian army soldiers drive past the Arch of Triumph in the historic city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate. Reuters, file

The Syrian military has struck ISIS positions in the centre of the country after on-the-ground clashes, the pro-Damascus Al Watan newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The fighting in the Al Sukhna — between the historical city of Palmyra and the eastern border city of Deir Ezzor — highlights the fact that although international forces are poised for the final assault on the remaining pocket of territory held by the militant group east of the Euphrates river, the threat from ISIS endures.

Roving bands and sleeper cells remain at large and regularly attack civilian and military positions.

Al Watan's report said that the Syrian air force carried out “a number of air strikes targeting Daesh [ISIS] movements in the eastern Badiya, specifically on one of the dirt roads leading to the town of Al Sukhna and southeast of the town”.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been laying siege to ISIS’s last enclave east of the Euphrates, the village of Baghouz, for several weeks.

On Monday, hundreds of civilians and fighters left the enclave after a pause in the weekend offensive.

Some 200 of the jihadists surrendered in Baghouz after a ferocious battle, but around 1,000 may still be holding out, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian force battling them said on Monday.

While the group's defeat at Baghouz would mark a milestone in the fight against ISIS, the group is expected to remain an insurgent threat inside Syria and Iraq.

The Syrian army recaptured Al Sukhna from ISIS in 2017 as it pushed the militants back across central Syria in an advance along the crucial desert highway from Palmyra to Deir Ezzor.

However, some of its fighters remained in the rugged desert areas around and have attacked army positions and convoys, a pro-Damascus source has said.

Russia and Hezbollah were instrumental in the recapture of areas around Palmyra as well as the general government roll back of territory lost to rebel and hard-line groups.

Updated: March 5, 2019 04:11 PM


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