DEIR AL-ZOR, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Kurdish-Arab alliance forces on Thursday announced they had liberated a strategic stronghold from the Islamic State (IS), which has recently also lost yet another to regime forces near the border with Iraq.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in an online statement said their forces liberated the town of Markada, an important base for operations in the southern countryside of Hasaka province.
“The fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) managed to liberate the town of Markada and 24 villages around it, and managed to repel a large-scale attack by mercenaries of Daesh on the Omar oil fields,” the SDF statement read, using the pejorative Arabic acronym for IS.
The Syrian army also claimed, in a statement published by the state news agency SANA, to have ousted the jihadist group from Albu Kamal town, the last city the militant group held in Syria, near the border with Iraq.
“The liberation of Albu Kamal is of great importance since it represents an announcement of the fall of the IS terrorist organization project in the region, in general, and a collapse of the illusions of its sponsors and supporters,” the General Command of the Syrian army said in a statement.
Losing Markada and Albu Kamal marked the collapse of IS’ three-year reign in the region and the end of its era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across Iraq and Syria.
The SDF, of which the Kurdish YPG is a leading component, launched an offensive on Deir al-Zor province in September and so far has seized most of the areas north of the Euphrates River from IS.
Syrian government forces, supported by Russian airstrikes and Iran-backed militias, are converging on IS in separate offensives in desert areas on the south bank of the Euphrates.
Defeating IS in Syria might not end fighting in the war-torn country as President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday revealed the army and its allies would keep fighting in the country after the battle ends in Deir al-Zor province.
Al-Assad indicated that the war in Syria might evolve to include the Kurdish-led, US-backed SDF, which are still fighting IS in Syria and control more than a quarter of the country.
Responding to Al-Assad’s threats, an SDF spokesperson for Deir al-Zor operation, dubbed Jazira Storm, Leelwa Al-Abdalla, said their forces would defend all areas they liberated against any attack.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces will not give up one inch of the land liberated by the sacrifices of the martyrs,” she said in an interview with the Syria-based Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA).
Editing by Nadia Riva