The US-led coalition and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are capitalising on strong ISIS attacks against Syrian government forces that have crossed the Euphrates.
On September 21, SDF units allegedly seized Al-Isba and Tabiye oil gas fields in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor city while the Syrian Arab army (SAA) and its allies were repelling ISIS attacks on the villages of Marat and Mazlum. Furthermore, the SDF media wing released a report claiming that SDF members had rescued 3 women and 9 children from Khusham village. This could indicate that SDF units reached the vicinity of Khusham village.
ISIS conducted large-scale attacks on the government-held villages of Marat and Mazlum on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and even seized some positions inside them, according to pro-opposition sources. Clashes between government troops and ISIS members were also reported in Saqr Island.
At the same day, the Russian Defense Ministry released a statement saying that almost no clashes were observed between the SDF and ISIS north of Deir Ezzor city. It added that Russian forces will strike any side that tries attack Syrian troops or Russian task forces operating near Deir Ezzor city.
On September 22, an intense fighting continued between the SAA and ISIS near Marat and Mazlum as well as in the Saqr Island area. Syrian government forces faced a stiff resistance from ISIS on the eastern bank of the Euphrates despite the ongoing SDF advance in the same area.
The Russian Aerospace Forces was also not able to provide a large-scale support on September 21 and September 22 because of the continued operations in northern Hama.
If the SAA is not able to capture Khusham and the SDF seizes it, government forces will be cut off from a road heading to the Iraqi border on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.