The city has been in a contested state for years, but Syrian government forces over the weekend suffered significant losses in the eastern half of the major eastern city of Deir Ezzor, as a major push from ISIS on two different fronts caused a number of casualties and forced Syrian troops to fall back out of some key neighborhoods.
A flurry of suicide attacks and rocket fire on Saturday ushered in a weekend of heavy fighting, with over 80 reported slain across the area, including civilians and combatants, though as is often the case both sides contested how many losses they each suffered.
ISIS controls the vast majority of Deir Ezzor Province, though the city itself has long been contested. The Deir Ezzor military airport remains under government control, after years of failed ISIS assaults, though this latest push has once again led to ISIS fighters getting dangerous close to the airport.
The military airport there has long been the last major such site for the Syrian military to launch airstrikes in the eastern half of the country, and its loss would be a devastating setback for them, as well as a major boost for ISIS. This fact has meant, despite a desperate attempt to defend the site, ISIS continues to try to make inroads in the vicinity with hopes of eventually forcing their way in.
Though fighting erupts in Deir Ezzor pretty regularly, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described this as the most intense fighting they’ve seen in over a year, suggesting that despite losses suffered elsewhere in the region, ISIS remains determined to gain ground in this important province.