Eastern Ghouta, Homs — Shaky Truce and New Losses for ISIS in Syria

HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES Mandatory Credit: Photo by SANA HANDOUT/EPA/REX/Shutterstock (8997081b) A handout photo made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows damaged buildings in al-Sukhneh city, in Homs province, Syria, 13 August 2017 (issued 14 August 2017). According to SANA on 12 August 2017, Syrian army units took control over al-Sukhneh city, 70 km northeast of Palmyra in the eastern countryside of Homs province, after operations against Islamic State (IS) militants. Syrian army takes control over new areas of Homs, Al-Sukhneh, Syria - 13 Aug 2017

The last stronghold of Islamic State in Syrian province of Homs was seized on Saturday by Syria’s government forces, clearing the path for continued offensive against jihadists in the country’s east, AFP reported.

According to Britain-based monitor, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian army seized the town of Al-Sukhna, located some 70 kilometers northeast of Palmyra, after heavy artillery fire and airstrikes by ally Russia. However, the government did not officially confirm the capture, while state news agency SANA reported that the town was surrounded from three sides.

The latest advances are part of Syrian government’s military campaign, backed by Russia, to recapture area separating the capital Damascus from Deir Ezzor and other towns along the Euphrates Valley. At the same time, ISIS is facing heavy fire by Syrian rebel and Kurdish groups, with the US-backed Syrian Defence Forces now in control of more than half of its most important remaining stronghold Raqqa.

War monitors also confirmed that Homs saw a new round of fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels, hours after Russia-backed truce started on Thursday. Similar truce has been shaky in the besieged Eastern Ghouta rebel enclave east of Damascus, with continued air strikes, rockets and exchanges of fire.

The Syrian Observatory reported that at least 25 civilians died, including 7 children, since the Eastern Ghouta deal went into effect on July 22. The war monitor says the regime forces are currently targetting areas in Damascus and the outskirts of Eastern Ghouta, with more than 190 missiles and tens of shells fired within the last 72 hours.

According to Observatory, this has been the heaviest shelling since the start of the truce, which is still officially holding, with Russian military forces deployed in the area to try to enforce the de-escalation zone in the city that has been besieged by government forces since 2013.

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