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Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal
November 19, 2017
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BEIRUT: Syrian troops and allied fighters advanced on Saturday to capture most of Albu Kamal, a monitor said, in a tug-of-war over the Daesh militant group’s last urban stronghold in the country.

The town in Syria’s oil-rich Deir Al Zor province has changed hands several times, with government troops announcing its capture but losing it to a blistering Daesh counter-attack a week ago.

Syria’s army and Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi loyalists re-entered Albu Kamal two days ago and by Saturday had taken most of it from Daesh, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Syrian regime forces, (Lebanese) Hizbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Iraqi militias seized control on Saturday of more than 80 per cent of Albu Kamal, after a huge attack that began Friday night,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

“Daesh was pushed back to the northern and northeastern sectors of the city. Clashes are ongoing,” Abdel Rahman said.

The Britain-based monitor said the fresh push came with heavy bombing raids by regime ally Russia, and that troops were advancing more “carefully” than in their previous assault to ensure their gains would not be rolled back.

On Saturday, Syrian state television aired live footage from Albu Kamal, showing plumes of smoke rising over the city’s skyline as explosions echoed in the background.

It said the army was preparing to “storm the remaining areas” held by Daesh in Albu Kamal’s east.

“What has most impeded the Syrian army’s advance is the large amounts of mines left by Daesh and its attempt at using families as human shields,” state television reported.

On Friday, a car bombing blamed on the Daesh militants killed at least 26 displaced people in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory said.

The Observatory said 12 children were among the victims of the attack on a gathering at a checkpoint run by US-backed fighters in Deir Al Zor province.

“Dozens of people were wounded, and the death toll could rise because of the number of serious injuries,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The displaced people had been on their way to neighbouring Hasakeh province, where camps have been set up to house them in Kurdish-controlled territory, Abdel Rahman said.

Agence France-Presse

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