BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s army and its allies advanced towards their enclave in Deir al-Zor, besieged by Islamic State forces, on Sunday, taking al-Kharata oil field, a war monitor reported.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has focused this year on the campaign in Syria’s desert, striking eastwards in a multi-pronged assault against Islamic State to restore Deir al-Zor, where the government pocket has been surrounded for years.
Sunday’s advance brings the army and its allies to about 10km (7 miles) from the city, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
On Saturday, a military media unit run by Assad’s ally Hezbollah reported that the army had captured Jebel al-Bashri to the west of Deir al-Zor, meaning it was less than 30 km from the city.
A Syrian military source said on Saturday the army had also advanced eastwards from Sukhna, on the main road between Damascus and Deir al-Zor, along a parallel route of attack.
Pro-government forces are also fighting to eradicate a large Islamic State enclave they left to their rear in central Syria as they advanced towards Deir al-Zor.
Reporting By Angus McDowall