On November 8, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces entered the last ISIS stronghold in Syria, al-Bukamal, only hours after launching their final attack on the city.
The SAA and its allies launched their final attack from two directions:
- their newly captured positions northeast of the T-2 station;
- the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Syrian pro-government and Iraqi sources claimed that Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an armed group, which is a part of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), attacked the eastern front of al-Bukamal city from the Iraqi territory. While local sources confirmed these claims, no official sources of Syria or Iraq commented on this matter yet. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also allegedly supported the operation.
ISIS contributed not much efforts to defend al-Bukamal and its fighters collapsed quickly around and inside the city, mainly due to the massive losses, which ISIS suffered from in Syria and Iraq lately.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that ISIS fighters destroyed a tank and a BMP-1 vehicle of the SAA north of the T-2 station, proving that ISIS incapable of fighting anymore.
On November 9, some clashes were reported between pro-government forces and ISIS members in al-Bukamal. The SAA and its allies faced some resistance in a part of the city. However, according to local sources, this was just a local center of resistance. ISIS is de-facto finished in al-Bukamal.
The Hezbollah media wing officially announced that SAA, Hezbollah and Iranian-backed forces launched operation “By The Dawn 3” to reach al-Bukamal city at the Syrian-Iraqi border on October 13.
On October 26, the SAA and Hezbollah were finally able to advance and capture the strategic T-2 station, which is located 70km west of al-Bukamal city, after repelling several ISIS attacks. By November 3, the SAA and its allies had been in only 40km away from al-Bukamal.
On November 5, pro-government forces reached the Syrian-Iraqi border 30km south of al-Bukamal and established several positions south of al-Bukamal. These positions were used by the SAA and its allies to launch their final attack on the city on November 8.
ISIS still controls few villages between al-Bukamal and Mayadin cities on the western bank of the Euphrates River. These villages will likely be captured by the SAA within a month, especially that the Tiger Forces announced an attack towards al-Bukamal from its positions south of Mayadin on November 7.
The remaining ISIS fighters inside Syria will likely regroup in the Homs desert southeast of al-Sukhnah town. However, due to the bad weather in the area during the winter, and because there are no notable towns or villages what so ever in the desert, the SAA will likely be able to clear the desert from large ISIS groups in the upcoming months.
In turn, ISIS will likely shift its efforts towards a guerrilla warfare and continue conducting terrorist attacks and raids across the country.