The Syrian Army is currently moving East in an effort to end the siege on the city of Deir al-Zor. On Monday, the Army reached a point two miles from their trapped officers within the city. According to the Governor of Deir al-Zor, Mohammed Ibrahim Samra, the Army is expected to reach the city by Tuesday night. Reuters reports that “a military media unit run by the government’s ally Hezbollah said the advancing forces were heading to the besieged garrison’s camp on the city outskirts.”
Deir al-Zor has been cut off since rebel uprisings began in 2013 and has been under siege from the Islamic State since 2014. News of the Army’s approach prompted celebration in the streets, Samra reported via telephone. Deir al-Zor is a location of major importance in the Syrian Civil War and the fight against the Islamic State, as it is the centre of Syria’s oil industry. In the Army’s push East, more and more oil fields have been reclaimed by the Syrian government.
During the siege, the city was kept supplied by high-altitude airdrops. The United Nations released an estimate in August, claiming that around 93,000 people were living in “extremely difficult” conditions within the city. However, Governor Samra has claimed that daily life is still running as it should be. “Despite all this and despite the shelling and injured, things are running in the city. The institutions are running, the bakeries. Water is also pumped twice a week to our residents, aid is distributed daily,” he said.
Reuters calls the advance on Deir al-Zor a “stinging setback for the once-triumphant Islamic State, fast retreating in both Iraq and Syria as its self-declared caliphate crumbles.” A commander in the military forces claims that “Islamic State is in confusion. There is no leadership or centralized control.”
The Islamic State has already begun to withdraw from its siege around Deir al-Zor, falling back to outposts in the down-river towns of al-Mayadin and al-Bukamal, near the Iraqi border. The Islamic State is continuing to lose ground, having lost not only its core territory in Mosul but also, according to Reuters, “yielding street after street in its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa.” However, the Islamic State is not yet eradicated and remains a threat to world peace. It has still been able to carry out attacks in the West, and it continues to have a presence in unstable countries such as Libya.