The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have launched an operation against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the north of Deir al-Zor Province in Syria, according to a statement on Saturday.
Officials from the Deir al-Zor Military Council (DMC), fighting as part of the SDF, said the campaign would target militants in the north and east of the Euphrates river, close to the Iraqi border.
On Friday, an SDF official told Reuters they would launch the assault from the south of Hassakah, an area controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The Kurdish-led forces are engaged in an ongoing battle against ISIS in Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital and last major stronghold in Syria.
The SDF has recaptured over 60 percent of territory in the city as ISIS continues to suffer heavy losses.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, the SDF had already met ISIS resistance with heavy clashes in Deir al-Zor.
Ahmed Abu Khawlah, who heads the SDF’s Deir Ezzor Military Council, read a statement in a press conference in the village of Abu Fas in Syria’s northeast Hasakeh province.
He said his forces started fighting to flush out ISIS from territory in Hasakeh province and further south in the strategically vital province of Deir al-Zor.
“Pivoting towards Deir Ezzor was inevitable … We are taking the first step to liberate territory east of the Euphrates River in Deir al-Zor,” Abu Khawlah told AFP.