Syrian Democratic Forces are advancing into the strategic town of Souseh against ISIS militants in the province of Deir ez-Zour.
ISIS continues to hold a small pocket of territory, known as the Euphrates pocket, in the province of Deir ez-Zour. Nevertheless, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in coordination with the International Coalition and the Iraq Security Forces (ISF) across the border, have been making significant advances.
The operations to uproot ISIS from Deir ez-Zour, known as the Jazeera Storm Campaign, have been in force since mid-2017. The current stage of the campaign is focusing on attacking the ISIS-held areas mainly from the southern axis, from the village of Baghuz Fawqani, and from the eastern axis, from desert areas.
The SDF is attempting to launch attacks of ISIS positions without causing civilian casualties. They are especially cautious since ISIS has been prone to using civilians as human shields, a tactic the terrorist group has employed in various battles both in Syria and Iraq.
“We are here in the village of Western Baghuz. Directly behind me lies the Albu Kamal Bridge, which cuts between Albu Kamal and the western Baghuz. The western village of Baghuz is located in front of us, only 400 meters separate us from the last stronghold of ISIS”, said an SDF officer.
Another SDF officer mentioned that they, with help form the International Coalition and the Iraqi forces, have managed to liberate 7 kilometres of territory in the past 10-12 days.
Pro-SDF sources are reporting that heavy shelling and airstrikes by the International
Coalition continues to target the positions of the militants as the SDF gears up for its push
against the town of Sousa. These reports also indicate that they will push from the south
and the east, with the town of Shafa (to the north) untouched so that displaced people can
have a safe escape corridor. The SDF estimates that some 2,500 to 3,000 IS militants, most of
whom are foreigners, remain in the pocket.