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11:17 23 February
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Syrian army fights to secure corridor into Deir al-Zor


Islamic State counter-attacks lasted through the day, trying to repel the army, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Fierce battles raged around the city, as troops sought to expand the route and allow aid in, the British-based war monitor added, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

 

“Work is progressing to secure the route and widen the flanks so as not to be cut or targeted by (Islamic State),” said a commander in the military alliance backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

 

“The next step is to liberate the city,” the non-Syrian commander said.

 

It points to a tough battle ahead as the army aims to move from breaching the siege to driving Islamic State militants from their half of the city, the sort of street-by-street warfare in which they excel.

 

Syrian state news agency SANA said the army had made gains expanding its control near the corridor after heavy artillery and air strikes.

 

Assad and his allies - Russia, Iran and Shi‘ite militias including Hezbollah - will follow the relief of Deir al-Zor with an offensive along the Euphrates valley, the commander said.

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