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A Saturday missile attack by the Islamic State against the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour was followed by an air strike by the Syrian military, the clash resulting in more than 30 dead. According to media, this was the biggest IS attack in Syria in the last few months.
The Deir ez-Zour province is rich in oil and is of special importance for IS because it connects its last remaining stronghold in the country, Raqqa, to territories under its rule in neighboring Iraq. The terrorist group controls large parts of the province, and two years ago it had control over the city as well.
According to reports, the targets of the IS attack were military posts in villages around the city of Deir ez-Zour. The Syrian military, for its part, hit a tank and three other IS vehicles. Some 20 of the casualties were IS members, media also say.
Another battle against IS is being fought in the north of Syria around the city of al-Bab. The terrorists’ positions are under fire from, on the one hand, Turkish forces and Syrian rebel groups, and on the other, from the Syrian army and various militias from Iran and Iraq that are affiliated with the Assad government.
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Regional news website Ara News notes that the Turkish forces and their allies have been “bogged down” in the area for over a month without much success. The battle is controversial because of the hostility between Ankara and Damascus. Turkey supports some of the rebel groups opposing the Assad government, which in turn is worried about any growing influence of Turkey in Syria.
What’s more, Turkey has more than one target in the conflict: the country’s partner in the conflict, the U.S., recently told Ankara to focus its efforts on fighting IS, rather than the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkey has a violent relationship with the Kurds, and according to media reports, has said it would attack the SDF after it takes control of al-Bab.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.