On January 16, Syrian government forces kicked off a large combing operation to secure the M20 highway, which links Homs and Deir Ezzor.
Units from the Syrian Arab Army 5th Corps, the National Defense Forces and the Palestinian al-Quds Brigade are taking part in the operation, which is backed by Russian forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the new operation is a response to recent attacks by ISIS cells. The terrorists are assaulting and ambushing government troops and civilians on the M20 on a regular basis.
Last month, ISIS cells ambushed a bus near the town of Kabbajb on the M20. 25 people, including civilians, were killed.
According to the SOHR, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted at least 65 airstrikes on ISIS terrorists, hideouts and equipment in central Syria in the last 24 hours.
“There are reports of casualties [in ISIS’ ranks],” the London-based monitoring group said in a report without providing any additional details.
ISIS cells have been actively working to expand their influence in central Syria. In the last few months, the terrorists launched attacks in the Hama-Aleppo-Raqqa triangle as well as in western and southern Deir Ezzor.
The new operation may secure the M20 highway for the short term. Nevertheless, more serious measures are needed to neutralize the ISIS threat in the central region.
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