Pockets of Islamic State fighters remain in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria, but the capture has ended the Islamic State’s dreams of a caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across Iraq and Syria.
The Syrian military, backed by Shia fighters from Iraq, cleaned out the town where ISIS fighters had held their last key redoubt on the Iraqi border. The jihadists had tried to defend the town, but it was captured on the same day the assault began.The united forces battling ISIS expect a new phase of guerrilla warfare however.
Albu Kamal had long been a transport hub for jihadists crossing from Syria into Iraq during the American occupation, and vice versa during the war in Syria.
The group had already suffered major setbacks after their loss of the provincial capital of the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor as well as their de facto capital Raqqa. As recently as two years ago, it controlled half of Syria’s landmass along with vast areas around Nineveh in northern Iraq and Anbar province.
The SAA’s victory in Deir Ezzor gave them back control over a larger portion of the country than its adversaries, and gaining momentum after six and a half years of US-sponsored terror.
Syria’s eastern Ghouta region, near the capital Damascus, is one of the last pockets of resistance against the government of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
Western security chiefs have warned that the loss of territory does not mean an end to jihadist attacks with guns, knives or trucks ploughing into civilians that its supporters have mounted around the world, The Times of Malta reported.
Syrian forces, backed by intensive Russian air strikes, have steadily advanced on Albu Kamal from the south and west for weeks.
The Russian Coordination Center in Hmeimim meanwhile has confirmed that a US P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, which is capable of detecting military submarines at various depths, took off from a Naval Air Station Sigonella in the Italian island of Sicily and flew close to the Russian bases on the Syrian coast.
The American flight was detected by Russian radars. Hours later, Russian radars detected yet another US aircraft, a strategic and a long-range bomb carrier.
The carrier had been flying at low altitudes, near the Russia-operated air base in Hmeimim, located in the northwestern Syrian province of Lattakia.
“These provocative acts are not the first of their kind, and they reflect the cowardice of the American side”, said Alexander Ivanov, a spokesman for Hmeimim air base, in a warning statement to the US forces.
Hunderds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, a multi-front war against the Syrian government that involved international forces and jihadists.