On October 28, US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition announced during a press conference that the US-led coalition and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are planning to launch an attack and to capture the last ISIS stronghold in Syria, al-Bukamal city, which is located at the Syrian-Iraqi border.
“We have to consolidate the gains that the Syrian Democratic Forces have made down to the Omar oil fields [in Deir Ezzor] and continue to back clear areas that are still ISIS-held territory … and then prepare for an offensive in Abu Kamal, where we believe the bulk of the ISIS leadership remains right now,” Dillon said according to the Russian Sputnik news agency.
The SDF is now stationed in al-Tanak oil field 40km north of al-Bukamal city, while the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is stationed 40km west of the city. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on October 22 that the SDF is negotiating with ISIS to take over Hajin town 20km north of al-Bukamal.
Such a deal with ISIS might allow the SDF to reach al-Bukamal city within hours, if the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) don’t provide a route to the SAA and Hezbollah though the Iraqi territory to attack the city first.
As for now, the SDF maintains its slow advance in the northern and northeastern Deir Ezzor countryside. On October 28, the SDF announced that its fighters captured al-Namiliyah village 45km northeast of Deir Ezzor city. The SDF said that 9 ISIS fighters, and 6 of its fighters were killed during the clashes in the village.
Meanwhile, the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that 2 VBIEDs of ISIS attacked the positions of the SDF in Jafra oil field north of Deir Ezzro city on October 27. According to Amaq, 32 SDF fighters were killed, and 13 vehicles of the SDF were destroyed in the VBIEDs attacks.
Moreover, Amaq claimed that ISIS fighters destroyed a Humvee and a vehicle of the SDF with IEDs southeast of al-Suwar town in the northern Deir Ezzor countryside on October 27 also.