Written by Peto Lucem exclusively for SouthFront
A few days after the Islamic State militants launched their biggest offensive since December 2014, the SAA regained the initiative in and near the embattled city of Deir Ezzor in Syria. On Jan.20, the 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard repealed another ferocious ISIS assault on the Airport near the city. This Airport is the most important military installation in the whole Governorate. If it’s captured by the Islamic State, it would mean the end for the Syrian Government troops in Deir Ezzor Governorate and in East Syria. The terrorists invested a lot of resources in the past few months to bring it under their control. So far without success. The recent days also saw several ISIS assaults in order to capture the 137th Brigade Base from the 17th Reserve Division, located 4 miles south-east to the provincial capital. Yet, the army was able to repel these attacks as well.
While ISIS militants failed to recapture more areas to continue to build on its recent success, the SAA launched counterattacks on Jan.20. The SAA focused on two areas:
- the al-Baghiliyah District (represents the gateway to the Deir Ezzor city);
- the Turda mountain area.
In the Baghiliyah District the army seeks to recapture the communication transmitter facility and the Ayash weapon depots, which have been captured by ISIS. As soon as Baghiliyah District and the depot are under the SAA control, the army will probably seek to recapture the hills of Ayash and Hajif to establish a new defensive line north of the Deir Ezzor city.
The western operation sector is being defended by elements of the 17th Reserve Division. As long the 137th Brigade base is under the army control, ISIS won’t be able to close on Deir Ezzor from the western direction.
To secure the southern countryside of the provincial capital, the army has to recapture the Turda mountain area. So far, the Republican Guard has recaptured Kroum-hill, located 1,5 miles north-west of the Turda mountain and continued to advance towards this important position. If the SAA is able to recapture this hill, it will stabilize the situation in the southern Deir Ezzor countryside and will allow the army to redeploy more forces to the east in order to support the Deir Ezzor airbase garrison.