Weekend fighting in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor has left at least 135 dead, including 50 pro-government fighters and 85 civilians, as ISIS forced its way into the area. ISIS also reportedly kidnapped some 400 civilians in the city.
ISIS controls materially all of the Deir Ezzor Province, except for the city itself and a nearby airbase. The city has been repeatedly contested and UN officials have recently warned of sharply worsening conditions in parts of it because of the constant fighting.
Syrian state media claimed a much larger death toll in yesterday’s fighting, suggesting that ISIS had killed around 300 civilians, as opposed to 85. As with many such incidents, it’s impossible to get an accurate count, and it could be quite some time before we know the full extent of the incident.
State media reported that ISIS began the attack with six suicide bombings against military positions in the city, and locals reported an extensive gunbattle beyond that. ISIS usually uses suicide bombings as a prelude to attack, to soften up defenses.
Ultimately, the Syrian military appears to have held off ISIS, but extensive damage was done, and the large-scale kidnappings suggest ISIS is far from through with contesting this area.