The situation is rapidly developing in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor. While the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have not reached the bank of the Euphrates, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have crossed the river.
On September 17, the SAA and its allies fully liberated Jafrah, Ayyash, the Hujeif mount, Muraieiah, Hawayej, Hawayej Abu Arab, Ain Abu Jumah and Hajj Hammoud as well as some nearby points on the both northwestern and southeastern flanks of the city.
At the same time, the SDF, backed up by the US-led coalition, seized the 7 Kilo roundabout and factories around it north of Deir Ezzor. The key SDF problem is that al-Husayniyah village, locaed on the bank of the Euphrates, is still contested. US-backed forces have not been able to capture it because it’s one of the few ISIS fortified positions north of Deir Ezzor.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq announced that ISIS fighters attacked a position of the SAA south of the Taim oil field southwest of Deir Ezzor city. According to Amaq, ISIS fighters killed 4 SAA soldiers and destroyed a BMP-1 vehicle and a 57mm gun of the SAA, during the attack.
Meanwhile, Russian warplanes destroyed dozens of ISIS ferries along the Euphrates river. ISIS usually use the ferries to move fighters and equipment, and most important oil tankers between the two banks of the Euphrates river. Some pro-militant sources as well as MSM-style media outlets already claimed that the Russians were bombing civilian targets.
On September 18, special units of the SAA embedded with Russian military advisers crossed the Euphrates river east of Deir Ezzor and gained positions there after a firefight with ISIS terrorists, according to the Russian media.
A media wing of the SAA 5th Assault Corps’ ISIS Hunters (an elite unit of the SAA) confirmed this report saying that the ISIS Hunters has crossed the Euphrates.
— ISIS Hunters (@ISIS_Hunters) 18 September 2017
The US-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also reported that the SAA has crossed the Euphrates.
According to unconfriemd reports, the SAA and its allies captured Marat and Madhlum villages on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. The Russian media says that the operation is actively supported by warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces as well as by BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers and TOS-1A Solntsepyok heavy flamethrower systems.
Separately, clashes were also reported in the Saqr Island.
Since the start of September, the SDF and pro-SDF sources have repeatedly claimed that they will not allow the SAA to cross the Euphrates. What now?
The ISIS attack near the Taim oil field: