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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, July 19, 2018

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ISIS targets in Syria struck by Russian cruise missiles

U.S.-backed Syrian forces are advancing

Share on Facebook September 14, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 587

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DAMASCUS, Syria - The Russian military on Thursday targeted Islamic State militants that were hiding out in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour.

As pro-government forces closed in on the militants holed up in the area, Russia fired seven missiles, from two submarines from the Admiral Essen frigate in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry had organized a trip for journalists, who watched the missiles being fired from the deck.

Addressing reporters later, Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that intelligence showed the missiles hit the targets southeast of Deir el-Zour.

The missiles managed to destroy a command center, a communications hub, an ammunition depot and an unspecified number of ISIS fighters.

Since 2015, much to the West’s dislike, Russia has provided military backing for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. 

The country has repeatedly fired salvos of such missiles, from both the sea and mainland Russia.

Last week, aided by the intense aerial campaign, Syrian and allied forces managed to push their way toward the city, breaking a nearly three-year siege on its troops on the western edge of Deir el-Zour. 

The siege came as a major symbolic victory for the pro-government forces. 

Since then, battles have been raging in the city - 60 percent of which has been seized - to rid it off the remnants of the militants.

On Thursday, the pro-government forces declared that they were closing in at the extremists from three sides along the river, pounding al-Bogheliyah neighborhood on the northwestern edge of the city.

They said that while the militants still control rural areas outside the city and the border with Iraq, they are currently encircled by Syrian troops from three sides, with their backs to the Euphrates River. 

ISIS, which has suffered significant losses in Syria and Iraq has launched a race for control of the border with Iraq, currently still in the militants’ hands. 

Meanwhile, U.S.-backed Syrian forces are advancing in the surrounding province from the east and north.

Commenting on the operation, Bassem Aziz, a spokesman for the U.S-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said his troops have taken control of an industrial area on the eastern bank of the river, a few miles from the government troops. 

Aziz added that they are about 6 kilometers (4 miles) away from the city’s eastern entrance.

Last week, the U.S-led coalition issued a statement saying that it will back its partners on the ground to defeat ISIS and “will do our utmost to ensure that (ISIS) terrorists do not move toward the border of our Iraqi partners.”

While the evacuation, which was negotiated by Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, removed the militants from the Syria-Lebanon border, it left both Iraq and the U.S. fuming.

Both the countries claimed that they should have been killed on the battlefield not moved to the Iraq border.

At the end of August, the deal reached saw hundreds of militants and their families being allowed to relocate to Boukamal, an ISIS-held Syrian town near the Iraqi border.

The relocation came in exchange for ISIS-held prisoners and the remains of Lebanese soldiers captured in 2014.

On Thursday, a surviving Hezbollah fighter was returned to Lebanon.

According to Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head, Rami Abdurrahman, buses and vehicles carrying about 400 militants and civilians crossed into Deir el-Zour province on Wednesday, but no details were available about where the buses went. 

The U.S.-led coalition struck the road the convoy was traveling on, but said that it did not strike the convoy itself because civilians were present on board.

The convoy was stranded in the desert for about two weeks, even though reports claim that some of the vehicles were able to slip into the militant-held territory. 

Later, the U.S-led coalition said it had ended surveillance of the convoy after a Russian request, as Syrian troops advanced against ISIS in eastern Deir el-Zour province.> BNN

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