Last weekend, Syrian government forces liberated the strategic town of Sukhna in the province of Homs. The town located 110km from the city of Deir Ezzor had been one of the key ISIS strongholds lying at the root of the ISIS defense in the provinces of Homs.
The Republican Guard, the 18th Armoured Division, Liwa Fatemiyoun and the National Defense Forces were main pro-government formations in involved in the operation. Government troops, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces’ warplanes and attack helicopters, took control over the heights located west, south and southwest of Sukhna and established a full fire control over the town. ISIS repelled the first government forces attempt to enter the town but failed to repel a flanking maneuver from the western direction and were pushed to withdraw from the town after a series of firefights.
Following the success in Sukhna, government troops liberated Rjam al-Saboun, Tal Abu Qul, Rajm al-Qun and Tulul al-Meleh and deployed in a striking distance from the Doubayat gas field. A fighting is now ongoing in the area.
Now, the Syrian military command have two main options:
1. To develop the advance along the road between Sukhna and Resfafa in order to cut off the ISIS supply lines to the eastern Hama countryside;
2. To continue advancing in along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway in an attempt to reach the city prior to the moment when ISIS is able to make successful flank attacks on the advancing grouping.
The first option looks more secure, but the second decision could be made because of political and diplomatic reasons. The Syrian military needs to reach the besieged city in order to pretend on the taking control of the strategic Deir Ezzor-Mayadin-Al-Bukamal road.
Meanwhile, reinforcements from the Qalamoun Shield Forces have arrived the eastern Homs countryside. This may indicate that the Syrian military is creating a striking force for another attempt to retake the ISIS-held town of Uqayrabat.
In the southern Raqqah countryside, the Tiger Forces and allied tribal forces have liberated Al-Hardan, Salim al-Hamad, al-Atashana, Muqla Saghira, Muqla Kabira, Al-Daa’ma, al Jaber and al-Kumaysah reaching the ISIS strong point of Maadan. The advance in the area is ongoing amid a chance that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could make attempt to cross the Euphrates River and to slow down the army advance on Deir Ezzor.
According to local and media sources, there is a unofficial military coordination between the Syrian military and the SDF. However, this does not suspend the competition for the oil and gas resources as well as the territory of eastern Syria.