SDF maintains progress in Raqqa while continuing Deir ez-Zor push

Coalition drones circled a stranded Islamic State convoy for days periodically picking off IS fighters if they strayed too far from the vehicles

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes likely to have been carried out by Russian warplanes have killed 69 people since Sunday near the Euphrates River in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor.

He recalled that the city of Deir ez-Zor, which used to be besieged by terrorists for more than three years, was unblocked by Syrian troops under the command of General Hassan Suhel on September 5. The US-led raid in the village of Al-Shahabat killed 12 of a family, including five children.

The army also captured several key areas in the city and its countryside, such as breaking the siege of the Deir al-Zour airbase, capturing the Teym oil field and the Tharda mountains.

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Since 2014, IS has controlled most of Deir Ezzor city and the surrounding province, which borders territory the jihadists hold in Iraq.

Since then, the army has brought reinforcements to the city and is seeking to oust ISIS from eastern neighborhoods that run along the Euphrates river, which slices diagonally through the province.

The operation by the alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters began over the weekend, but the SDF has said it was not coordinating the fight with the regime.

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The remaining 40 percent of the city still held by the government - and home to around 100,000 civilians - was under crippling IS siege.

The statement, published by the SDF's media council, announced the establishment of "a preparatory committee that will discuss the basis and starting points for a civil council for Deir Ezzor". He said the SDF had advanced to six kilometres from the eastern banks of the Euphrates River across from Deir Ezzor city.

The coalition, the SDF, Syria's government and Russian Federation have agreed on a "de-confliction line" in northeastern Syria to prevent the two offensives from clashing.

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