ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have made significant advances against the Islamic State (IS) in Deir al-Zor, the group said in a statement on Sunday.
The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), said their forces reached an industrial zone miles to the east of Deir al-Zor Province.
The recent advance brings the Kurdish-led forces to about 15 kilometers (10 miles) of the Syrian army and its allies.
Earlier this week, the Syrian army reached a region in Deir al-Zor, ending IS’ three-year siege on the province.
Officials from the Deir al-Zor Military Council (DMC), fighting as part of the SDF, launched an operation against IS in the north of the province on Saturday.
The forces said the campaign would target militants in the north and east of the Euphrates river, close to the Iraqi border.
After the Saturday announcement, Ahmed Abu Kholeh, head of the DMC, told Reuters the SDF forces would advance strategically against the militants.
“The first step is to free the eastern bank of the Euphrates and the areas [IS] still holds,” he said.
“We’re not specifying a timeframe, but we hope it will be a quick operation,” Kholeh added. “We don’t know how the battles will go after this.”
Regarding hostility with Syrian government forces who are also battling IS in Deir al-Zor, the DMC head said he did not predict clashes, but added the SDF forces would “respond” if fired upon.
The Kurdish-led SDF is also engaged in an ongoing battle against IS in Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital and last major stronghold in Syria.
The SDF have recaptured over 60 percent of territory in the city as the extremist group continues to suffer heavy losses.