Syrian troops have crossed the Euphrates river east of Deir ez-Zor as part of a joint military operation with their Russian counterparts to free the city's periphery from Islamic State group, according to Sputnik News.
A Syrian source said Islamic State group forces "have no outlet except crossing the Euphrates towards the eastern bank and fleeing towards the desert, or (the towns of) al-Bukamal and al-Mayadin."
Syria's offensive against the group, wedging them out of several villages near the city, was completed in a matter of hours. Several of their vehicles equipped with heavy armament were destroyed and 10 fighters were either killed or detained.
The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement which read, in part, “The squadrons of the Syrian government troops, strengthened by units of the fourth rank division with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted a forced crossing of the Euphrates river near Deir ez-Zor through a pontoon bridge established by engineer divisions."
Islamic State group has maintained control over the town of Dei ez-Zor for almost three years. The blockade was finally lifted by the Syrian Army with help from Russian military planes in early September.
The victory, according to the Russian General Staff, marked a crucial turning point foreseeing the defeat of the group in Syria.
Last month, Bouthaina Shaaban, a top advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told the al-Mayadeen television news network that the six-year war in the country is in its “penultimate stage” as foreign sponsors cut funding for anti-government groups.
A “U-turn was achieved,” she said, adding that “it does not mean that we have won the war completely. We are just at the beginning of the road towards reconstruction and rebuilding Syria.”