Recapture of Al-Sukhnah Inspires Syrian Army, Allies

Recapture of Al-Sukhnah Inspires Syrian Army, Allies

The Syrian army and allied fighters have pledged to march on from al-Sukhnah to liberate other Islamic State (ISIS) held regions following the recapture of the strategically important town.

Al-Sukhnah, the last ISIS stronghold in the central province of Homs, is the gate to Deir al-Zour, which has been under the siege of the militant group for years. Syrian government troops hailed the victory in regaining control of the town as significant progress in their fight against ISIS extremists.

Located in eastern Homs, al-Sukhnah used to be home to some 18,000 people, who, however, have gradually left the blighted town since it fell in the hands of ISIS in May 2015. Given its special position - only 55 kilometers from the western administrative borders of Deir al-Zour and 70 kilometers east of the ancient city of Palmyra, its liberation brings hope for the Syrian army and allied fighters to break the years-long ISIS siege on Deir al-Zour.

When ISIS was in its heyday, al-Sukhnah was one of the key stops for its supplies. But now the extremist group is losing out in ensuring sufficient resources.

"Now we have cut off the supply line of ISIS from here to other provinces including Hama and Deir al-Zour. Because al-Sukhnah is a transfer station for ISIS terrorists, plenty of weapons used to be transported through the city," said Major General Muhammad Khaddour with the Syrian army.

From al-Sukhnah, most of the route leading to Deir al-Zour, under the siege of ISIS for over four years, is desert with few villages. Reclaiming al-Sukhnah will greatly accelerate the Syrian army’s advance to the east.

But it is bound to be a tough fight, not merely against the terrorists but also against the harsh conditions of the desert.

Alaa Mohamed, a tribe force fighter who joined the battle to liberate al-Sukhnah for the sake of his family's safety, said it was rather difficult to fight in the searing desert battlefield.

"We are not accustomed to the conditions but we have to bear it. We have no alternative. The natural conditions of the desert is really harsh," said Alaa.

Alaa said ISIS extremists are cowards in front of the Syrian army and its allies, adding that he is willing to die for the cause of liberation.

"We are not afraid of being martyrs. We are not scared. ISIS terrorists are weak. When they see us, they flee like frightened rats," said Alaa.

The young man is confident in saving his fellow citizens besieged by ISIS in Deir al-Zour.