Syrian Army Attacks Daesh Targets in Desert: Report

The Syrian military has mounted airstrikes against Daesh (ISIS) militants and clashed with the militants in central Syria, the pro-Damascus Al-Watan newspaper reported Tuesday.

The flare-up in the area of Al-Sukhneh, between Palymra and Deir al-Zor, on Monday points to the foothold the ultrahard-line group still has west of the Euphrates even as U.S.-backed fighters are poised to seize its last enclave east of the river.

The Syrian air force mounted “a number of airstrikes targeting Daesh movements in the eastern Badiya, specifically on one of the dirt roads leading to the town of Al-Sukhneh and southeast of the town,” Al-Watan said, citing a military source.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have been laying siege to Daesh’s last enclave east of the Euphrates, the village of Baghouz, for several weeks.

Some 200 of the militants surrendered in Baghouz after a ferocious battle at the weekend, but around 1,000 may still be holding out, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian force battling them said Monday.

While the group’s defeat at Baghouz would mark a milestone in the fight against Daesh, the group is expected to remain an insurgent threat inside Syria and Iraq.

The Syrian army recaptured Sukhneh from Daesh in 2017 as it pushed the militants back across central Syria in an advance along the crucial desert highway from Palmyra to Deir al-Zor.

However, some of its fighters remained in the rugged desert areas around and have carried out attacks on army positions and convoys, a pro-Damascus source has said.