DEIR Al-ZOR (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday revealed they had gained control of a strategic base on the Euphrates River and the border with Iraq, adjacent to Syrian government areas.
Abu Abdalla, a member of the Deir Al-Zor Military Council, an allied group to the SDF, told Kurdistan 24 they now controlled the strategic village of Baghuz on the border with Iraq.
“So far, we advanced about 23 kilometers [into Islamic State(IS)-territory], and we seize at least 4 Daesh (IS) checkpoints every day,” he claimed.
Baghuz is a strategic base and will be a starting point for the SDF to resume their operation to take over the remaining IS-held areas on the Euphrates.
By controlling Baghuz, the SDF now surrounds the strategic town of Hajeen on three fronts.
The SDF plans to advance toward Hajeen, the main stronghold still held by IS militants on the Euphrates in western Syria.
“After taking Baghuz, our plan is to gain control of Dasheesha, a village on the border with Iraq, before advancing to Hajeen and Susa,” Nashmi Hisen, an SDF fighter, said.
With the latest developments, the SDF has cutoff IS supply lines from Iraq, leaving them with virtually no escape routes along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
The eastern area of the Euphrates River, from Raqqa to Deir al-Zor, is a significant, strategic region for IS, its main source of economic viability.
In that area are located the largest gas and oilfields, as well as power plants.
Earlier this month, the SDF announced it was relaunching efforts to clear IS from the few areas in Syria where they maintain a presence, including in the eastern oil-rich province of Deir al-Zor near the border with Iraq.
The operation aims to secure the southeast portion of Syria, along the Iraq border, in coordination with Iraqi security forces.
The SDF had put on hold its fight against IS after Turkey launched an assault in January on the northwestern Kurdish Canton of Afrin.
The SDF, which the Kurdish YPG spearheads, has been the main partner of the US-led coalition against the jihadist group in Syria, helping drive the militants out of the country's northern and eastern areas last year.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Salih from Baghuz village)