Militant fighters of the Islamic State in the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor airbase. File photo
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ERBIL – Radical group of the Islamic State (ISIS) launched Monday a major offensive on strongholds of the regime’s army forces in Syria’s eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, killing and wounding a number of soldiers.
ISIS has reportedly advanced towards the regime-held strategic airbase of Deir ez-Zor, despite the US-led coalition’s airstrikes on the group’s fighting positions during Monday’s clashes.
Speaking to ARA News in Deir ez-Zor, media activist Ahmed Ramadan said that ISIS jihadis started their offensive by conducting a series of suicide bombings near positions of the pro-regime forces and allied National Defense militia, in the district of Harbash in Deir ez-Zor suburb, causing the death and injury of at least 30 Syrian soldiers.
“ISIS militants infiltrated into the Harabsh district, adjacent to the military airport of Deir ez-Zor, and carried out several car bomb attacks,” Ramadan said.
“The ISIS-led suicide operations on the regime’s headquarters led to the outbreak of fierce clashes between the two sides in the vicinity of the military airbase,” the source told ARA News.
At least seven soldiers were killed during the clashes before ISIS insurgents seized control of several army posts in the vicinity of the Deir ez-Zor airbase.
Supported by military helicopters, the regime’s army forces launched heavy shelling on the area of clashes.
ARA News could not verify the death toll among ISIS jihadis.
Also, local activists reported that the colonel in the regime’s Republican Guard, Ibrahim Salloum, was killed along with 13 other soldiers after being hit by two shells inside the airbase on Monday.
“ISIS jihadis were able to control 7 new points in the vicinity of the airbase after successful suicide operations,” Ramadan told ARA News.
Over the past four weeks, Russian air force intensified bombardment on the international highway connecting Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa in a bid to prevent ISIS from receiving additional reinforcements.
Last month, Syrian army forces started an extended military campaign with the support of the Russian warplanes and infantry to control the eastern areas of the international highway between Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor city.
Deir ez-Zor is deemed strategic for ISIS for it links the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Iraqi territory controlled by the radical group.
ISIS has been fighting for more than a year to seize the military airport and other regime-held districts in Syria’s oil-rich eastern province of Deir ez-Zor.
Reporting by: Sarbaz Yousef
Source: ARA News