Updates on the mission to take Deir ez-zor from Islamic State: SDF won't advance into city

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


KOBANI – A spokesperson for the US-led coalition on Thursday confirmed that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will not move into the Deir ez-Zor city, where the regime is fighting ISIS forces.

The decision falls within the parameters of an agreement made by the Russians and Americans, who have agreed to mark deconfliction lines to prevent the SDF and the Syrian regime from clashing. The two forces, have so far, succeeded in prioritizing the fight against ISIS over competing with each other.

“I've already mentioned how congested and how complex this battlefield is.” Colonel Ryan Dillon told reporters on Thursday, “the plan is not to go into Deir ez-Zor city” he added.

Moreover, he denied claims that SDF forces had reached the city.

“These are no Syrian Democratic Force partners that are in the city.  The SDF partners that we support are still east of the Euphrates River, and are northeast of Deir ez-Zor city,” he added.

Nevertheless, he said there are enough ISIS fighters to fight in the countryside in Deir Ez-Zor, particularly across holdouts throughout the Midle Euphrates River Valley. According to coalition officials, it is estimated that 6,000 to 8,000 ISIS fighters from Mayadin down to Abu Kamal, are currently based in the countryside. Only 2,500 fighters are approximated to remain in Deir ez-Zor city.

According to the coalition, the SDF has so far met very light resistance while clearing more than 300 square kilometers.

Haqqi Kobani, a leader in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), also previously confirmed in an exclusive interview with the Region that they have made significant advances. But they’ve run into IS repositioning their forces.

This can only mean that there will be increased pressure from IS fighters across the vast countryside across the province of Deir Ez-Zor province.

Claims of indigenous gratitude

Addressing some criticisms that the SDF may lack legitimacy in the region of Deir ez-Zor, the US supported coalition believes that inhabitants of the area are grateful for their advances into IS-held territory.

“Some of the reports that have come from our SDF partners illustrate the personal nature of this fight.  Arab SDF fighters native to the area are reuniting with friends and family they have been separated for from years due to ISIS terrorist control of the villages they called home” the coalition spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also expressed hopes that the political infrastructure projects that the SDF is engaged in building will help stabilize the future of Deir-ez Zor.

“Once our multi-ethnic partner forces liberates territory from ISIS, it effectively holds it with indigenous forces and provides the necessary security to enable representative civilian councils to stabilize the territory,” he stated.  

“They will continue to defeat ISIS while protecting the people in the region, freeing them from ISIS brutality,” he concluded.