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Syrian Army pushes into ISIS bastion

Published : Jun 5, 2016, 7:23 am IST
Updated : Jun 5, 2016, 7:23 am IST

Russian-backed Syrian troops pushed into the ISIS group’s bastion province Raqa on Saturday, threatening to catch the jihadists in a pincer movement as US-backed Kurdish-led fighters advance from the

Russian-backed Syrian troops pushed into the ISIS group’s bastion province Raqa on Saturday, threatening to catch the jihadists in a pincer movement as US-backed Kurdish-led fighters advance from the north.

The lightning advance from the southwest with Russian air support brought the Army to within 40 kilometres of the Euphrates Valley town of Tabqa, site of the country’s biggest dam, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said.

The dam, 40 kilometres upstream from the jihadists’ de facto Syrian capital Raqa city, is also the target of the Washington-backed offensive which Kurdish-led fighters launched in May.

It was the first time that government troops had entered Raqa province since they were ousted by ISIS fighters in August 2014.

Regular Army troops were backed by militia newly trained by the regime’s ally Russia, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Mr Abdel Rahman said that the twin offensives which threaten to cut off ISIS-held Raqa from jihadist-held territory along the Turkish border raised suspicions that Moscow and Washington were covertly coordinating operations by their respective Syrian allies.

“It seems there has been an undeclared coordination between Washington and Moscow,” he said.

At least 26 jihadists and nine government troops and militia were killed in the Army’s advance, according to the Observatory.

Location: Lebanon, Beirut