Head of the Syrian Regime Bashar Assad paved the way on Tuesday for the start of a battle against Kurds by offering guarantees that his forces and allies would continue fighting even after the end of the battle in the Deir al-Zour province, the largest remaining stronghold of ISIS in Syria.
Speaking from Damascus after meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Assad said that he might take the war to the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which control more than a quarter of Syria.
“The war is not only against terrorism, but also against the attempts to invest terrorism and exploit it to achieve the aim of dismembering and debilitating countries,” he stated.
According to Reuters, the SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, is also battling ISIS in Deir al-Zour. Backed by US-led air strikes and special forces, the SDF has focused on territory east of the Euphrates River, which bisects the oil-rich province.
Last Friday, Velayati said Syrian regime forces would soon advance to capture Raqqa city from the SDF, accusing the US of seeking to divide Syria by stationing its forces east of the Euphrates.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that ISIS terrorists were increasing their counterattacks to confront regime forces and their allies moving in the direction of the Bukamal city in Deir al-Zour.
The battles left at least 24 people dead in the last 36 hours.
“Violent clashes are still taking place between both parties in areas in the southwestern desert of Bukamal, where ISIS continued to carry out counterattacks targeting the position of regime forces, who managed to reach a distance of about 15 kilometers southwest of the area,” the Observatory reported Tuesday.
In coincidence with those battles, violent clashes were still taking place between SDF units and ISIS in areas east of the Euphrates, mainly in the vicinity of al-Busayrah town and the Sabkha village.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that four journalists and five military servicemen, who sustained wounds from a landmine blast in Deir al-Zour, had returned to Russia, where they were taken to the hospital.
The ministry said earlier that all of them were flown by Russia's military medical aircraft "Scalpel" that is equipped with special modules in order to ensure the safe transportation of the injured.