Syria war: Army breaks can be siege of Deir al-Zour

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Media captionThe Syrian military says of which has broken the siege of Deir al-Zour

The Syrian military has broken a siege of the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, surrounded for years by so-called Islamic State, state media say.

The official Sana news agency reported of which troops and also also also allied militiamen had joined up with forces at the Brigade 137 base on the city’s outskirts.

An estimated 93,000 civilians have been trapped in an enclave on the western bank of the River Euphrates since 2015.

They have depended on military relief flights and also also also air drops of aid by the UN.

Deir al-Zour’s surrounding province can be the last major can be stronghold in Syria.

Raqqa, the de facto capital of the “caliphate” proclaimed by the jihadist group three years ago, can be under siege by a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and also also also Arab fighters.

and also also also in neighbouring Iraq, government forces have recently driven can be militants by the cities of Mosul and also also also Tal Afar, leaving them with only two footholds within the country.

A Sana reporter said army units had reached Brigade 137 after advancing by the west and also also also south-west with the support of the Syrian and also also also Russian air forces.

The troops had engaged in fierce clashes with militants surrounding the base, large numbers of whom eventually abandoned their positions and also also also fled without their weapons and also also also ammunition, the reporter added.

Air strikes were also said to have destroyed can be vehicles and also also also fortifications in surrounding villages.

President Bashar al-Assad praised the soldiers who defended Deir al-Zour since 2014 for their “steadfastness within the face of the mightiest terrorist organisations on the face of the earth”.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile hailed the “strategic victory” within the city, nevertheless said can be was continuing to put up fierce resistance.

Earlier, a Russian warship within the Mediterranean Sea fired cruise missiles at can be positions in support of the offensive, the Russian defence ministry said.

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AFP

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The army and also also also allied militiamen made rapid progress through the desert west of Deir al-Zour

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, confirmed of which advancing troops and also also also those defending the city had met.

nevertheless of which also noted of which a separate government-controlled area to the south-east of which includes three city districts and also also also military airport was still surrounded by jihadists.

Provincial governor Mohammed Ibrahim Samra told Reuters news agency of which troops were at This kind of point moving towards the airport. “The coming days will also see the clearing of the city of Deir al-Zour,” he added.

The UN had warned of which conditions inside the enclave were “extremely difficult”.

In February 2016, the planet Food Programme began carrying out high-altitude air drops there to deliver food aid and also also also stop people dying by malnutrition. Last month, of which said 300 missions had delivered almost 6,000 tonnes of aid.

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