Fighting has raged over the weekend in the northeastern part of Syria’s Homs Province, with Syrian Army commandos pushing into an area still held by ISIS, killing at least 25 ISIS fighters in a push backed by Russian airstrikes.
The offensive pushed 20 km across the ISIS line, capturing at least three villages from the Islamist forces, as well as some key surrounding area. Six Syrian soldiers were reportedly also killed in the fighting.
ISIS had once held a broad swathe of desert in this area of Homs, part of an attempt to build a defensive bulwark around their important territory in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor Provinces. Increasingly, however, they’ve lost the roads, and are now losing the villages.
The Syrian military took the last town in this area last week, al-Sukhna, which gives them control of the main highway through the region, and a straight shot into Deir Ezzor. Deir Ezzor has a lot of oil resources, and Syria is keen to gain control of as much as possible before other factions get there first.