Backed force plans council for Syria's Deir Ezzor

Dans une rue de Deir Ezzor en Syrie le 10 septembre 2017 George OURFALIAN

Dans une rue de Deir Ezzor en Syrie le 10 septembre 2017 George OURFALIAN

Held by the Islamic State (IS) group, the city is the capital of the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, regarded as a strategic prize by both Syrian troops and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Regime troops are preparing to cross the River Euphrates, up to now the "line of deconfliction" with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led militia fighting Isis with USA and British help, according to Iranian media.

"Huge military reinforcements - including equipment, vehicles and fighters - have arrived in Deir Az Zor ahead of an attack to push Daesh from the city's eastern neighbourhoods", said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.

The Observatory, which identified the victims as civilians, said the air strikes hit civilian encampments on the western bank of the Euphrates and vessels crossing the river to the eastern side.

Around Syria, there are still pockets of other insurgents, some backed by Turkey and others by the USA, in the northwest and north as well as in the south and near the capital. An al-Qaida-linked group controls northern Idlib province, bordering Turkey, while Syrian rebels maintain a dwindling number of enclaves elsewhere.

The reporter added that the ground operations of the army in the countryside of Deir Ezzor coincided with intensive airstrikes of Syrian warplanes on ISIS sites in the villages of al-Jneina, Ayash, al-Bugheiliya, Hatla, al-Hweiqa and Mabar al-Jafra.

Moscow intervened in Syria in September 2015 in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia's Defense Ministry has not said how many troops it has in Syria, but turnout figures in voting from overseas in the September 2016 parliamentary elections indicated that Russian military personnel in the Arab nation likely exceeded 4,300. The Russian military said last week 34 of its servicemen have been killed in Syria.

Russian Federation has also co-sponsored talks with opposition fighters and the government to negotiate cease-fires and set up "de-escalation zones" credited with reducing fighting around the country.

A new round starts this week in the Kazakh capital of Astana, on local cease-fires and de-escalation zones.

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