Islamic State (IS) attempts to regain initiative in Eastern Syria
DEIR EZ-ZOR AND HAMA PROVINCES, Syria (September 29 – October 1, 2017) – With a string of losses by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, IS sends its elite troops from Western Iraq into Syria in order to counter advances by the Syrian Arab Army.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched a massive offensive denoted Ghazwat Abu Muhammad al-Adnani (named after an IS commander killed in an airstrike last year) which attempted to outflank Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions along the M20 highway. IS appeared to be largely successful with its offensive at first, sending elite shock troops (commonly known as inghamasis), multiple tanks, and artillery transferred from reserves in the Western Iraqi desert as well as equipment pulled back by IS while losing swaths of territory.
The SAA has managed to largely counterattack and re-secure most points and cities (Shoulah and Kabajib) lost to IS along the Sukhnah – Deir Ez-Zor highway (M20 + M7 Highway) although minor points still remain in the hands of IS. However, IS sleeper cells are currently active in Al Qaryatayn, deep in SAA territory. Although the city is currently under their control, this is evidently temporary as the faction will not be able to thrive under limited personnel and a military siege. The town was known for its Christian setting before the civil war, but all of Christian residents are assumed to have fled the area.