The Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, has fully liberated the city of as-Sukhnah (al-Sukhneh) from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), opening the road to the besieged enclave of Deir ez-Zor, says the Russian Defense Ministry.
As-Sukhnah, liberated on Sunday, was the last major city held by IS in the Syrian province of Homs.
“The liberation of As-Sukhnah from IS opens possibilities for Syrian government forces to advance and unblock the city of Deir ez-Zor,” the ministry said.
The final push to liberate the city began on Tuesday, when Syrian troops recaptured strategic heights in the vicinity of as-Sukhnah and blocked the city, according to the Russian MoD.
Over the following two days, Syrian troops pushed IS out of western and northern parts of the city, and early in the morning on Sunday other parts of as-Sukhnah were liberated.
The liberation of as-Sukhnah opens the road to the key Euphrates city of Deir ez-Zor, which has been under IS siege for the past few years.
“Today we can say that everyone is focused, set up for the fight against IS. Today there are such key points, like Deir ez-Zor – I would say, first and foremost Deir-ez-Zor… It’s such a basic point on the Euphrates River, which would largely, if not ultimately, tell about the end of the fight against IS,” Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu told Rossiya 24 broadcaster.