On March 18, ISIS stepped up military operations against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along the western bank of the Euphrates River in the southeastern Deir Ezzor countryside, according to Syrian opposition sources.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq reported that ISIS fighters had killed eight soldiers of the SAA after they had shelled their positions around the city of al-Bukamal near the Syrian-Iraqi border with an SPG-9 recoilless rifle. Amaq additionally reported that an ISIS sniper killed two other soldiers of the SAA around the city.
Amaq also announced that ISIS fighters had destroyed two 130mm artillery pieces of the SAA in the village of al-Hamdan, northeast of al-Bukamal, with ATGMs.
The Syrian pro-opposition media outlet Deir Ezzor 24 claimed on March 17 that ISIS fighters had been able to capture the strategic T2 station and the village of Humaymah in southern Deir Ezzor from the SAA. However, Syrian pro-government sources said that the SAA had repelled an ISIS attack on the station and the village.
ISIS fighters are likely trying to recapture positions on the western bank of the Euphrates River from the SAA in order to re-unite with the besieged ISIS fighters on the eastern bank.
ISIS fighters destroy two artillery pieces of the SAA: