US-backed forces, Syrian army advance separately on ISIL in Deir Ezzor

US-backed forces and the Syrian army advanced in separate offensives against ISIL in eastern Syria on Saturday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed coalition, aimed to push out the jihadists from territory east of the Euphrates River, while Syrian government forces — supported by Lebanese group Hizbollah and Russian air power — seized an oilfield from ISIL on the other side and recaptured part of a road linking Deir Ezzor to ISIL-held territory downstream.
Ahmed Abu Khawlah, who heads the SDF’s Deir Ezzor Military Council, read a statement in a press conference in the village of Abu Fas in Syria’s northeast Hasakeh province.
He said his forces started fighting to flush out ISIL from territory in Hasakeh province and further south in the strategically vital province of Deir Ezzor.
“Pivoting towards Deir Ezzor was inevitable … We are taking the first step to liberate territory east of the Euphrates River in Deir Ezzor,” Abu Khawlah said.
The Syrian government said its troops were attempting to break a nearly year-long ISIL siege on a military airport on the south-western side of Deir Ezzor.
The Syrian army’s push in to the city has allowed aid shipment to reach civilians via land for the first time in years. For more than a year, the World Food Programme has been airdropping supplies to besieged areas.

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