First Published: 2017-11-16

Syria army enters last IS-held town
Government forces reenter Albu Kamal several days after successful jihadist counterattack in last town they hold in Syria.
Middle East Online

Artillery are seen lined up in the village of Suway'iah, near the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal.

DAMASCUS - The Syrian army on Thursday entered Albu Kamal, the last town in the country held by the Islamic State group, several days after the jihadists recaptured it, a monitor said.

The town in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the border with Iraq was initially captured by the army and allied forces a month ago but IS retook it in a counterattack.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the new offensive had successfully penetrated the town, with troops backed by Russian air strikes advancing from the west, east and south.

"Fighting is ongoing inside the town, there is artillery fire and there are Russian air strikes," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The first assault on Albu Kamal was spearheaded by Syrian government allies, including Iraqi and Lebanese Shiite fighters, and advisers from Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the Observatory said.

"This time, the military operation is being led directly by regime forces," Abdel Rahman said, adding that troops had taken the town's eastern, southern and western suburbs.

IS still holds around 25 percent of the countryside of Deir Ezzor province but are under attack not only by government forces but also by US-backed Kurdish-led fighters.

The jihadists once controlled a territory the size of Britain, proclaiming a "caliphate" in 2014 that spanned Syria and Iraq.

But they have successively lost all their key strongholds, including Raqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

 

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks

Iraq forces launch new push against IS desert holdouts

Iran cleric urges new intifada against 'occupying regime'

Heavy Israeli deployment ahead of Friday prayers

Saudi crown prince ‘bought’ $450 mn Da Vinci

Trump Jerusalem ploy sparks Palestinian protests

States pledge action, condemn Libya slavery

UN says Syrian males caught in ‘vicious cycle’ of sex abuse

Jerusalem move awkward for Arab allies of US

Niger repatriates nationals from Libya

Russia says mission to defeat IS in Syria ‘accomplished’

Jerusalem recognition brings little change and big risks

Qatar agrees to buy fighter jets from France amid Gulf crisis

Iraqi militia threatens US forces over Jerusalem provocation

Qatar wants to resolve Guft rift, but not at expense of dignity

World condemns Trump Jerusalem announcement

UAE ‘disappointed’ at inclusion in EU tax haven blacklist

Huthi rebels mount show of force in Sanaa

Syrian opposition pressured into accepting Assad

Yemen government forces retake Red Sea town