Syrian Army Secures Islamic State Held Town in Homs

Syrian Army Secures Islamic State Held Town in Homs

Syrian government forces seized full control of the last major town in Homs province held by Islamic State (ISIS), Syrian state media reported on Saturday (August 12), as the army and its allies press a multi-pronged advance into eastern areas held by the jihadist group.

Syrian state media cited a military source saying Islamic State militants had been killed and their weapons destroyed at the town of al-Sukhna, some 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra.

The town is also located some 50 km (30 miles) from the provincial boundary of Deir al-Zor province, Islamic State's last major foothold in Syria and a major target for the Syrian government.

The jihadists have lost swathes of Syrian territory to separate campaigns being waged by government forces backed by Russia and Iran, and by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic (SDF) Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG. The SDF is currently focused on capturing Raqqa city from Islamic State.

The Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, said about 2,000 ISIS militants are estimated to remain in Raqqa, fighting for their survival in the face of the SDF offensive to liberate Raqqa.

ISIS has been losing territory across northern Syria over the past 18 months to the SDF, Syrian rebels backed by Turkey, and to the Syrian army.

The SDF launched its U.S.-backed campaign to seize Raqqa in early June. The assault on SISIS’ de facto capital in Syria overlapped with the campaign to drive ISIS from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where ISIS was defeated last month.